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^'' PRINCETON, N. J. ^5^ 

Purchased by the Hamill Missionary Fund. 

BV 3680 .N59 R6 1902 
Robertson, H. A. 
Erromanga, the martyr isle 














My share in this work is a small one. Many of 
his friends both here and in Canada had frequently 
asked Mr. Robertson to write a history of Erro- 
manga, but the daily oversight of his numerous 
flock and other mission work on the island leave 
him little time for literary composition ; and thus 
the project was again and again deferred. At last 
I offered, if he would write the narrative, to do 
all that might be needed in the way of making 
arrangements for publication. And so the manu- 
script was commenced, and the chapters, one by 
one as they were completed, passed into my hands. 
This book is now presented to the reader as a 
record of nearly thirty years' trial and persever- 
ance in a small and remote portion of the field of 

In the text I found several passages that re- 
quired explanation ; for, however easy it is for 
those who are familiar with the islands and their 
customs to understand what is meant as soon as 
the thing is named, yet readers in distant lands 
may fail to catch the full meaning unless some 


words are thrown in for the sake of clearness. For 
that purpose, I have occasionally altered the text 
a little, and wherever something more was needed 
I have added notes ; some words and expressions 
also have been changed throughout the chapters. 
With these exceptions the narrative now stands as 
I received it. 

The author has had much difficulty in getting 
information about Erromanga as it was previously 
to the year 1872, and especially about the mar- 
tyred Gordons. If any friends in Canada or 
elsewhere possess letters from them, he would be 
glad to have these, to be used in a second edition 
of this book, if it should be required. Also he 
would be much obliged if any persons in the 
Australian States can give him further particu- 
lars about the sandal-wood trade and the early 
condition of Erromanga. 

The illustrations are taken from photographs 
made by the author himself and one or two 
others ; and the maps of Erromanga and of part 
of Oceania were prepared for this volume by two 
of his friends as love-gifts. 

Those who take an interest in natural history 
will value the appendix on the floi'a and the 
physical aspect of the New Hebrides, which 
Dr. Alexander Morrison has kindly written for 
this volume. It is founded on a personal visit 
to Erromanga and the New Hebrides. 



I have cheerfully given my assistance in pre- 
paring this volume in the hope that, along with 
the Rev. Dr. John G. Paton's Autobiography, it 
may help to show how much untold heroism there 
often is in the conduct of Christian missions, 
and how much the missionary is the pioneer of 
civilisation and trade. 


Maitland, New South Wales. 


From the time we visited Canada in 1883 until 
about four years ago, when I consented to under- 
take to write this work, many of my friends in 
Britain, Canada, the United States and Australasia 
had urged me to tell the Story of Erromanga. 
Feeling my missionary duties on so large an 
island almost overwhelming for one man, I could 
not see how I was to find time for this additional 
labour. But when I was told by friends, in whose 
wisdom and strong practical common sense and 
sound judgment I had every confidence, that it 
was a duty I owed to the Churches which main- 
tain our mission on the New Hebrides, and to the 
Christian wojld at large, and that I ought to set 
to at once, for life was uncertain, and that my 
intimate knowledge of Erromanga and its people 
clearly pointed to me as the man who should write 
the narrative : when, I say, it was put to me as a 
duty, I at once resolved to make time and give 
every spare moment to this heavy undertaking. 
I have tried throughout to make my narrative a 
record of facts, without which it would be utterly 


useless as history and at the same time unsatis- 
factory to the general reader, but especially so to 
friends of missions, who are ever anxious to have 
tidings regarding the progress of God's work in 
all lands. 

I also experienced great difficulty in gathering 
information about the early history of Erromanga, 
and especially so about the sandal-wood trade, and 
in fact about almost everything connected with the 
island before my time. With two or three excep- 
tions, I got no help from the many persons to 
whom I had thus written. To friends who kindly 
lent books and to those who replied, giving what 
information they could, I am most grateful. 

My special thanks are due to Mr. J. W. Lindt, 
of Melbourne ; Mr. Thomas Pratt, agent of the 
L.M.S. at Sydney ; Rev. Dr. Gunn, of Aneityum, 
and Rev. J. H. Lawrie, of Sydney — for supply- 
ing some of the photographs which illustrate this 
volume. Dr. A. Morrison, Government Botanist 
of Western Australia, has also obliged me by 
writing a general account of the physical features 
of the New Hebrides for the Appendix. 

Those who may review or criticise my book — 
and it is a poor book that is not criticised — will, I 
am sure, be fair, and will take into consideration 
the great difficulty I have had in preparing a work 
of this kind. 

I should have liked to write much more fully 


than I have done about the manners and customs 
and characteristics of the natives of the island, but 
I was urged to push on with the work as there 
were signs of impatience for its appearance, and so 
I have been led to make my narration of later 
events somewhat brief. And now I have done 
my part. Whether I have succeeded or not, the 
public must judge. It has claimed much time, 
much toil, but these have been cheerfully given. 


Erromanga, New Hebrides, 
31^/ March, 1902. 




The People of the New Hebrides — List of the Islands — The Vol- 
canoes — Erromanga : its Distance from Sydney : its Coast- 
line : its Caves : its Bays, Mountains, Divisions, Name, Rivers, 
Scenery — The First Visitor to Erromanga : his Experience 
narrated — Potnuma Bay — Traitors' Head — A Poet's Tribute . i 


Sandal-wood in 1839 — Dillon's Bay named — Dr. George Bennett, 
of Sydney — The Pearly Nautilus — A tiny brown Girl: her 
History — Sandal-wood as Fuel — The Barter of Sandal-wood; 
trade Values — Tricks in the Sandal-wood Trade — " Sandal- 
wood English" — The Navilah — Trade Atrocities — Captains 
Paddon, Rodd, Hastings — Profits of the Trade — -Victims — 
Trade in Hogs — Trade in Sandal-wood — Navilah for In- 
cantations — Differences of Character on the Islands — Sandal- 
wood and continued Fighting — Rangi Toriki, the Sandal- 
wooder : his son Owang, our Friend ..... 22 


John Williams- : his Life and Labours : his Death on Erromanga's 
shore — Captain Morgan's Narrative of it — Mr. Cunningham's 
Narrative — Explanations by present Erromangans — Rev. S. 
Ella's Letter about Visits to Erromanga from 1839 to 1857 , 47 


Rev. George Nichol Gordon : lands with his Wife on Erromanga 
in 1857 — All Alone — House-building — Why do the Heathen 
ask for Missionaries? — Learning the Language — Teaching the 
Boys — Discouragement, Disease, Death around — Mr. Gordon's 


Personality — Correspondence — Visits of Friends — Mrs. Gordon : 
her feeble Health — They remove to the Uplands — Epidemic 
of Measles— Plot to Murder— Murdered, both of them — 
Carried by the Young Men to Burial — Christian Natives flee 
to Aneityum— Extracts from Rev. Dr. Gill's journal — Bishop 
Patteson 64 


The First Dayspring — I wish to Travel — The Dayspring Sails 
with me on board — Rev. James D. Gordon's last look of his 
Native Land — I eat a Green Banana — A Pine-apple Tree — 
Bread Fruit — We reach the Cape — At Melbourne — I see Real 
Missionaries — Drs. Geddie and Inglis — The Children's Ship 
at Melbourne — Rev. J. P, Sunderland as Showman — Captain 
Morgan— Lathella, of Aneityum— A Situation for me— The 
Dayspring arrives in Sydney — The Farewell Meeting — Rev. 
S. Ella and Mrs. Ella — I see Aneityum, 5th June, 1864 — Umo 
recognises Mr. James Gordon — An Island Banquet — The 
Cotton Company — Rev. John Inglis — Arrival of the Mail Bag — 
The Training of Teachers— Native Leisure — Tropical Growth 
and Scenery — Aneityumese Dress and Full-dress ... 83 


The John Williams Wrecked at Niue — The Little Schooner with 
a Great Name — The Dayspring rescued from Financial 
Trouble by Rev. Dr. Paton — Dr. Geddie and Mrs. Geddie 
return to Aneityum with fresh Missionaries from Scotland — 
The new yohn Williams goes on the Coral Reef — Sandy's 
care of his " Claes " — I go to Sydney for a time in a Useful 
Capacity — The Dayspring and the yohn Williams return to 
Aneityum — The new Missionaries are settled — The yohn 
Williams wrecked again : her successors — Sunstroke and its 
Effects — Rev. James Gordon visits N.S. Wales — A Letter 
suddenly changes the Course of my Life — My return to Nova 
Scotia is determined — How much a Penny can Buy — The 
Assurance of a Tyro — A Simple Mistake and its Beautiful 
Consequences — Lathella's Cattle and Lesson in the Art of 
Ploughing : his Effort to tr<iin his Cattle and the issues of 
it — Mother and Child — I leave Aneityum for Nova Scotia — 
Study and Work 102 




Mr. and Mrs. Ella — Separation of Mother and Children — Diary of 
Rev. James D. Gordon's Settlement on Erromanga — Mr. 
Copeland's Notes — Joined by two Missionaries from Scotland 
— Petticoats wanted — Mr. and Mrs. Macnair — Diphtheria in 
1867 — Mr. Macnair visits a High Chief — A Sale of Land — 
Mr. Macnair's health : he dies suddenly — Mrs. Macnair — Mr. 
Gordon visits Santo : his own Account of his Work on 
Erromanga — Two Letters to Young Friends .... 124 

Santo a Promising Field — Translation of the Scriptures — Visitation 
— Potnuma Bay Station — Narrative of the Murder of James 
D. Gordon — Rev. Dr. J. G. Paton's Latter— Yomot's Story of 
the Murder . 148 

My Preparation for the Mission Field — Licensed and Ordained — 
Farewell Meetings in Canada — We reach Liverpool and visit 
Glasgow, Edinburgh, etc. — Kindness of the Scotch — Dr. Duff 
— Dr. Norman Macleod — Three Missionaries and their Wives 
leave Liverpool in the Great Britain — Cabby's Extortion at 
the Quay — A Weather Storm — An Accident — Cutting Adrift 
the Old Horse — Reach Melbourne — Hot Weather and Island 
Pork — The Dayspring carries many Black Coats from Mel- 
bourne — We reach Aneityum — News of James D. Gordon's 
Murder — A Novel Wedding-cake — A Tour of the Islands — The 
Annual Meeting settles us on Erromanga— An Earthquake — 
We reach Erromanga — Our Resolve 164 

On Erromanga now — House Cleaning — Our Servants — The 
Women's Dress — Friendly Visitors — H.M.S. Basilisk— An 
attempt to Murder — A Stormy Trip to Aniwa — A Baby 
Missionary — House Building — A Tropical Hurricane — Our 
House is down — Unexpected Sympathy and Help in Re- 
building — Church Work on Week-days — My Wife's serious 
illness — The New House finished — A House-warming — 
Thieving — A Tough Meal — Cunning Beggars — Wife Capture 
— Evangelising — Teaching — A Visitor from Canada — A 
Journey to Cook's Bay — Hunger — I settle a Teacher — James 
D. Gordon's Grave visited . . , . . . . i8q 




The History of a Steam Launch — Illness and Death of a White 
Settler — We take a necessary Trip to Tanna and bring back 
a " Tanna Woman " — Rev. Dr. Steel, of Sydney, and others 
visit us — I go off to the Synod ; my Repentance and Happy 
Return — The Memorial Church — Sickness among the Native 
Christians — A Woman sees a Vision — Sufa's Chief asks for a 
Teacher — A Christian Girl teaches her Heathen Husband 
with significant Results — When left a Widow, she becomes 
valuable to us — Goat-herds and Cow-herds — A Native Ex- 
ample of Civilisation — A Tidal-wave and Earthquake ; their 
Effects 221 


Extension of our Mission Work — " Mr. White " and his Fat Pigs 
— Treachery and Plunder, with Murder — H.M.S. Beagle — Our 
Gordon born — How a Child acts as "Boss" — The Synod 
meets at Nguna — Eucharistia : a Thanksgiving Feast — The 
" Dear Old Dayspring" again — A Houseful of Visitors — The 
Cannibal land-sharks miss their Prey — Vila and its Mission 
Station — H.M.S. Beagle loses a Boat, and Captain Caffin 
learns how strong Fever and Ague can be — We transfer our 
Work for a time to Cook's Bay — A Church of Grass and Reeds 
— Our Dwelling — A Native Bed — Schoolwork and Odours — 
Our New House — Our Helpers in House-building — A Sunday 
Pudding brought by the Great Chief — The Wives of " the 
Great Netai " — School-keeping and Sunday Services — " The 
Clothed " — We return to Dillon's Bay 239 


Missionary Visits to various parts of the Island — A Wall put round 
Mr. Gordon's Grave — Torch-bearing — A sharp adze Cuts — A 
Native becomes Crazy : he kills the Devil and does some 
other wonderful Things — Poor Old Lifu and his Troubles — 
A long pull-out to the Dayspring — Captain Braithwaite's 
kindness — A Sample of Native Etiquette — A Fowl plucked 
alive — About Umo, a Native Teacher — A " Black-birding" 
Craft and its Work — A Murder investigated by the Ad- 
miralty I . . , . 260 




The Year 1877 — A Great Hurricane and its Consequences — A 
Dress-coat saves a Chief — A Bread-fruit Tree saves Navuso 
— The Graves of the Martyrs — The Dayspring arrives — '^"le 
Captain and his Wife — A Chief tries to bribe the Captain to 
live on shore — I Visit the Coast Stations on the Island in the 
Dayspring — How to use a Mirror aright — A Day of Earth- 
quakes — A Visit to a sick Chief — How we pay for our Re- 
freshments and are afterwards " in clover " at a Chiefs House 
— A Chief who had never seen a White Man : he runs away 
in Fright when he sees me — A Native's wages for Seven 
Years' Work in Fiji : his Wife — Watata's Character and 
Wants — I take to Match-making — Watata is at last Wedded 
— A Lad's Devotedness ••...... 281 


Ohai, a faithful Servant : her boy is taken to England : Captain 
Caffin's kindness to him : his Life and Death ; her little 
girl Tia — In December, 1877, we visit Sydney — Mr. and Mrs. 
James Anderson — Yomot takes a run to Sydney and is 
frightened on the Way — " Not Dirty, only Black " — An 
attempt at Assassination — Yomot's Bravery — The Plot does 
not succeed — Sentries asleep ....#•• 304 


The Meeting of Synod in 1879 — Resolution as to Church Member- 
ship — Mr. Michelsen to be settled on Tongoa — The " Mar- 
tyrs' Memorial Church " — The Attire of Worshippers — School 
Work — A Diligent Scribe : his History of the Erromangan 
Mission, with a Postscript — Yomot and Atnelo — A Wedding 
which Missed Fire — Too much vigour in ringing the Church 
Bell — A novel Wedding-dress — Match-making — Port Narevin 
— A Snake on the Rafters — We return to Dillon's Bay — 
Death of Soso in 1880 — Many Baptisms at Cook's Bay Station : 
a Deep Plot to prevent Them — Affectionate Nurses — A Sacred 
Service at Dillon's Bay in 1882 — Influenza — Settlement of 
Rev. R. M. Eraser on Epi — We leave on a visit to Canada — 
How to say " Good-bye " 319 




Yomot, the faithful Friend and devoted Christian . . • . 350 


The Physical and Moral Character of the Natives — Costume and 
Ornaments — How Cloth is prepared : and Dress — Women are 
tatooed — The Weapons of the Men — Bow and Arrow, Clubs, 
Axes, Spears — Canoes — Huts— The Cooking-house — Dwellings 
— Food Plants— Fruit Trees— Meals and Dishes— Birds— The 
man who knew a Peacock — Moral Character — Gratitude — 
Obedience — Respectfulness — Conservatism in Customs — Order 
— Lying — Exaggeration — Native Tales — How to pay Wages 
— Honesty 362 


Nobii, the Creator-god — Offerings to the Spirits of Ancestors— 
Navilah or Sacred Stones — The Nisekar or Heathen Feast 
— Chiefs — Tribal Wars — Cannibalism — The " Kava " Drink 
— The Naming of a Child — Young Girls betrothed — An Old 
Maid — The Wives of Chiefs — Death and Burial — Widows — 
Burial — Witchcraft — Wind-, Rain-, Storm-, Drought-, Thunder- 
makers — Doctors — Medicine — Examples of Hyperbole — 
Relationship 389 


Visit to Canada — How to pay for Cabs, etc. — Our homes re- 
visited — A Tour of Meetings and Address — Donations for the 
Mission — The Gordon Family — The Bishop of Erromanga at 
Longfellow's House — The Ice Palace — We return to Australia 
and Erromanga — A Warm Welcome back — Robertson's Road 
— Arrowroot ; how to Prepare it and to Sell it — A Marriage 
Fee — Population and the Labour Traffic — Arrival of New 
Missionaries : their Settlement — Wreck of the Cairndhu — Plot 
to destroy our Mission — The Mission Service by Steamer from 
Sydney — Trade of the New Hebrides — The Melanesian 
Mission's labours in the Northern Islands — '^'onclusion . . 405 

Notes 435 

Appendix .... . 449 



The Rev. H. A. Robertson of Erromanga. Photographed by Mr. 

Henry King, artist, Sydney, in 1894 .... Frontispiec» 


Map of the South-West Pacific, prepared by a friend of the Author i 
The valley of Williams' River and Dillon's Bay (from the heights). 

Photographed by Dr. Gunn 

A fishing pool on Williams' River. Photographed by Dr. Gunn . 
"Cook's Landing," on the East Coast — "Traitors' Head" in the^i 

distance. Photographed by Rev. William Gunn, M.D., of 

Aneityum ........... 

Williams' River and valley walk, Dillon's Bay— The site of the old 

Sandal-wood Station. Photographed by J. W. Lindt, artist, 


Rev. John Williams .j 

Rev. George Nichol Gordon and Mrs. Gordon. (From an old photo- 
graph) 64 

Uhuvili (who murdered G. N. Gordon) and his child. Photographed"! 

by Dr. Gunn ••••...... I 

Numpunavos, an Erromangan girl. Her name means " beautiful j ^'^ 

head". Photographed by Dr. Gunn J 

Rev. James Macnair. (From an old photograph) . . . .^ 
Rev. James Douglas Gordon. (From an old photograph) . .] ^^^ 
Mrs. Robertson. Photographed by H. King, artist, Sydney, in 1894 164 
The Mission House at Dillon's Bay. Photographed by Rev. H. A. 

Robertson ........... 

Lalim Nimpu — a Christian Erromangan ; a helper at the Mission 

House. Photographed by Dr. Gunn I 

An Erromangan belle in heathen dress. Photographed by H. A. {^^^ 

Robertson I 




"The Steps" — the southern point of Dillon's Bay. (From the' 

garden of the Mission House.) Photographed by Mr. S. 

Sinclair, Australian Museum, Sydney . . . . .\- 285 
Williams' River below the "Rapids". Photographed by J. W. 

Lindt ............ 

The School House and sintan-lo at Arawau on the East Coast, "j 

Photographed by S. Sinclair ....... |-295 

Yomot, Usuo and other teachers. Photographed by Dr. Gunn .) 
The Mission House and the Church, Dillon's Bay (from the river). 

Photographed by J. W. Lindt ....... 304 

The Mission House at Dillon's Bay (side view). Photographed hy\ 

H. A. Robertson J- 325 

The Martyrs' Memorial Church. Photographed by S. Sinclair .} 
Three sons of Auwi-auwi who murdered John Williams. One ot" 

these, Usuo, the chief of Dillon's Bay, laid the foundation-stone 

of the Martyrs' Memorial Church. Photographed by Rev. Dr. )- 345 


Yomot and Navusia, his wife. Photographed by Dr. Gunn . 
Owang, son of Rangi, as driver of the Mission's horse and cart.^j 

Photographed by Dr. Gunn I 

•• South River " in the Unepang district. Photographed by H. A. j 

Robertson . J 

Map of Erromanga 4^g 



Erromanga is one of the larger islands of the group 
to which the great English navigator of the eighteenth 
century gave the name of the New Hebrides. He ob- 
served that, in their position on the other side of the 
globe, they correspond with the Old Hebrides ; for they 
are about as far west of the meridian circle of Greenwich 
in the Southern Seas as the Hebrides are in the map of 
Britain ; and, like them, this group forms a chain running 
nearly north and south, with the largest islands at the 
top. The most southerly of all is the small island of 
Aneityum ; to the north-west of that is Tanna, with its 
ever-active volcano, and almost an equal distance to the 
north-west of Tanna is Erromanga. Not far to the 
east of Tanna are two small islands, Futuna and Ani'wa, 
with a people mostly of brown Polynesian descent. To 
the north-west of Erromanga is Efate or Fate, its native 
name, but called Sandwich Island by its discoverer. The 
population of this island is mixed with a strain of brown 
Polynesians which is specially noticeable at Fila Harbour 
on the west coast. With the exceptions just named, all 
the islands of the New Hebrides are occupied by 
Melanesians, that is, by black men who are ultimately 
of the same race as the Fijians, the Papuans of New 
Guinea, and, with these, the Austi'alians. Although the 
people of the New Hebrides are all of the same origin, 



yet it is evident that two separate streams of immi.rjrants 
must have come there at a very remote period ; for the 
population of the three southern islands — Erromanga, 
Tanna and Aneityum — differs materially from that of 
the islands to the north of Efate ; the men are much 
fiercer on the southern islands ; the women here wear 
long petticoats of leaves, while the men go about almost 
without clothing ; whereas, in the north, it is quite the 
reverse in the matter of dress. On the southern islands 
the canoes are small and rudely made from trunks of 
trees, fit to hold three or four men ; but on Malekiila, in 
the north, there are huge war canoes carrying fifty men. 
On Malekula also there is something like the Indian law 
of caste, but more akin to an artificial grading of society, 
through initiation ceremonies, such as prevails in the 
islands to the north of the New Hebrides. But there 
is nothing of that kind on Erromanga or Tanna or 
Aneityum. On the last of these three, there is only one 
language, for the island is small, but on each of the other 
two there are several. The larger islands to the north 
have a multitude of languages also — which seems to be 
everywhere a heritage of the race of Ham — but the 
islands in the middle of the group have the same 
language with slight varieties of dialect. Besides these, 
there are many other reasons which would lead one to 
believe that the people of the three southern islands are 
the pure descendants of the earliest occupants of the 
whole group, just as the Tasmanians are probably the 
representatives of the first population of Australia, driven 
southwards by those who came in at a later time. The 
northern New Hebrides would thus be a mingling of 
their first inhabitants with a later people of the same 
race who came to join them there ; to this mixture 
the middle islands, Efate, Nguna, Mae and Tongoa^ 
also belong, but these seem to have got, at some time, 


a considerable infusion from the brown Polynesian 

There are in all the group about thirty inhabited 
islands, varying greatly in size. The largest, which is 
also the most northerly, is Santo ; it is not yet fully 
known to us, but it is said to be seventy miles in length 
and forty in breadth. St. Philip's Bay, on the north 
coast, is very large and extensive, having a shore line of 
about sixty miles. Captain Cook described it as " of 
unfathomable depth, except near the shores, which are 
for the most part low ". The north-east point he named 
Cape Quiros after its first discoverer, and the north-west 
point he called Cape Cumberland. The port of Vera 
Cruz is at the head of this bay, and near by is the river 
Jordan. On the west and in the interior, the land rises 
to a height of two or three thousand feet. Santo Peak, 
in the south, is 5,520 ft. above the sea level. The 
estimated population of the island is 12,000. 

Malekula, to the south-east, is next in size, being 
seventy miles in length by twenty-five in breadth. The 
narrowest breadth is about six miles. The highest eleva- 
tion is Mount Penot, 2,925 ft., in the centre of the 
island. Here there are no large rivers, but several streams 
of fair size. This island possesses some good harbours 
and bays, especially a fine land-locked bay called Port 
Sandwich on the south-east. Port Stanley on t"he north- 
east is also well sheltered. The estimated population 
of Malekula is from 15,000 to 20,000. 

Aurora and Pentecost are, both of them, islands of 
considerable size, as are also Ambrim, Epi and Efat6. 
Ambrim has a circumference of sixty miles ; its highest 
peak is that of its volcano in the centre of the island, and 
is about 3,500 ft. in height. Early visitors to Ambrim 
seem to have been struck with its beauty and fertility. 
It is in the midst of a " sea of islands," and that lends 


to it a decided charm. Here is an extract from Dr. W. 
Wyatt Gill's Journal of 1862: "On 30th October, we 
were off Ambrim, gazing at its magnificent volcano. 
The ocean was as smooth as a lagoon, and well it might 
be, for on every side we saw large and lofty islands rising 
out of the sea. How utterly insignificant many of the 
islands of Eastern Polynesia appear in comparison with 
such as these ! " 

Epi is from twenty-five to thirty miles in length, and 
has a breadth of twelve miles. Its highest peak is about 
2,700 ft. above sea level. There are no rivers here. 
Its estimated population is 2,600, and Paama and Lopevi 
— two small islands lying to the north of Epi — are said 
to have 2,000 inhabitants. 

The circumference of Efate, or Sandwich Island as it is 
often «alled, is close on seventy-five miles. This island 
possesses two of the finest harbours in the group, called 
Fila (or Vila) Harbour and Havannah Harbour. Fila is 
the commercial centre of the New Hebrides, and numbers 
of English and French settlers reside at this port 
Havannah Harbour, some miles to the north of Fila, is 
a large and very deep sheet of water. It was visited in 
1849 by Captain (now Vice-Admiral) Erskine in H.M.S. 
Havannah, and named by him after his ship. 

Malo, or St. Bartholomew's Isle, to the south of Santo, 
is thirty-two miles in circumference, and its greatest 
height is 1,280 ft. The estimated population is 1,000, 

The island of Erromanga, whose northernmost point is 
at least sixty miles from the south coast of Efate, lies 
between 18° 35' and 19° south latitude, and in east 
longitude between 168° 55' and 169° 16'. Its greatest 
length is about thirty-five miles, and its greatest breadth 
twenty-five miles. Traitor's Head, its loftiest elevation, 
is 2,700 ft. 

Tanna, lying to the south of it, has a circumference 


of about forty-five miles, its greatest length being 
eighteen miles. Its chief peak, Mount Merren, is be- 
tween 4,000 and 5,000 ft. high. The soil on Tanna is 
extremely fertile, and, besides its active volcano, it has 
numerous hot springs rising up along the shores. 

Aneityum, the most southerly island, has a length of 
eleven miles and a breadth of eight. Its greatest height 
is 2,788 ft., and its present population is 527. 

Futiina has an area of four square miles, its length 
and breadth being about equal. The population at last 
census was 320. 

Aniwa, lying to the north-east of Tanna, is ten miles 
in circumference. Its present population is 160. 

Tongoa, the largest of the Shepherd Isles, which are 
in the centre of the group between Epi and Efate has 
a circumference of eight miles, and rises to a height of 
1,800 ft 

Nguna, close to the north side of Efate, is six miles in 
length and four in breadth. 

Numerous small though fertile islands He like dots 
everywhere, especially in the centre and northern parts 
of the group. The panorama of these fair islets, many 
of which can be seen together from one spot, forms a 
glorious sight. 

The New Hebrides Islands make a link in the great 
volcanic chain of the Pacific which stretches along the 
western coasts of North and South America, takes in 
the Aleutian Islands and Japan, thence south to the 
Philippine group. New Guinea and the Solomon Isles, 
from that group to the New Hebrides, and on to New 

There are now in these islands three active volcanoes 
— those of Ambrim, Lopevi and Tanna. In 1897, a 
submarine volcano broke out near the north coast of 


Tongoa at a place marked on the charts as Laika Bank, 
which is about a mile and a half from the mainland. 
It had great force at first, and for a time the eruptions 
were very frequent ; its power, however, soon decreased 
considerably. A submarine volcano also showed itself 
twenty years ago between Traitor's Head, Erromanga, 
and a small island some miles from the coast ; it has 
been dormant ever since. Here the only evidence that 
there was any eruption is now the sudden shoaling at 
that particular spot, all the water around being very 

In March, 1902, the young volcano at Tongoa was 
again eruptive, right in the midst of the sea, at a point 
farther to the south-east. 

In 1894, a violent eruption took place on Ambrim. 
It did a vast amount of damage, and even yet one can 
plainly see the track that the burning lava took on its 
way to the coast ; and when it poured into the open sea 
an enormous column of smoke and water, several 
hundred feet in height, was forced up into the air. 

Lopevi Island is a volcanic cone, rising to the height 
of 5,000 ft. The eruption of 3rd June, 1898, threatened 
at first to have very serious effects. This volcano had 
been dormant for nearly a quarter of a century, but then, 
on that day, with terrific roars, it sent up huge volumes 
of dust and lava. The dust was carried in the air to a 
great distance, even as far as to Erromanga, one hundred 
and forty miles away, where we got it about eight 
o'clock on the Friday evening of that week. Then 
the wind, which had been strong all day, increased to a 
gale here, and suddenly there came with the gale a 
thick shower of volcanic dust, which we thought to blow 
from Tarma, close by, though we had never known it 
do so before. In a few minutes it completely covered 
the floors of every room in our house, every table and 


shelf. It penetrated through the joinings of the closely 
fitting corrugated iron roof; through windows, doors 
and every possible cranny. Books, dishes, and drawers 
containing clothes and other things, were all lined with 
a covering of fine dark-brown dust. In attempting to 
look outside, we could not bear the onset of the sharp, 
annoying, sand-like ashes which filled our eyes, and 
we were glad to get into the house again. By nine 
o'clock, our coral walks were black instead of white, 
and this novel rain continued to fall till midnight. 
What a state our house was in! The dust was so fine 
that it seemed to sift through everything, and it was 
many days till we got quite clear of it. We soon heard 
that Lopevi, and not Tanna, was responsible for the 
trouble. On Tongoa, about forty miles to the south 
of it, the dust fell all the afternoon ; the air was black 
with it, and the natives were terror-stricken. Mr. Smaill, 
the missionary of North Epi and its surrounding islets, 
told us that the Lopevi movement had " gradually sub- 
sided and become fairly quiet though signs of activity 
are seldom long absent ". 

The crater of the Tanna volcano is not more than 
600 ft. above the level of the sea. It is one of the 
finest in the Pacific, is always active, and is one of the 
sights, or perhaps the sight, of these islands. The late 
Rev. Dr. Steel, of Sydney, spoke of it as the " great 
lighthouse of the southern isles, which every three or 
four minutes bursts forth with greater brilliancy, like a 
revolving light ". I have had a good many oppor- 
tunities of visiting it — about six or seven times in all ; 
each time it wore a different aspect ; it is always grand 
and awe-inspiring, and can never become " an old affair ". 
On one occasion I remember seeing the molten lava 
thrown up to a great height in the air eind playing 
around like a magnificent fountain. 


Like the other southern islands, Erromanga has not 
as yet been thoroughly surveyed, but after my many 
journeys round the coast, by sea and land, I estimate, 
by as correct means as lies in my power, that the cir- 
cumference of the island is about lOO miles. I notice 
that my predecessor, the Rev. James D. Gordon, who 
made careful notes of distances from point to point, 
gave 104 miles as the result of his calculations. The 
distance of the island from Sydney, N. S. Wales, is as 
follows: — "By Great Circle track (from Darling Har- 
bour in Sydney) to a position off the Isle of Pines 
and thence to Dillon's Bay, Erromanga, is 1,325 nautical 
miles ". 

Erromanga's rugged coast-line contains numbers of 
large caves which were often, in the dark days of 
heathenism, used for shelter by people who had been 
vanquished in war and were escaping from their pur- 
suers. These great caverns were sometimes strongly 
fortified, and, entrenched in them, the wretched fugitives 
would drag out weary weeks of existence, managing to 
keep themselves alive by eating wild roots and leaves, 
which could only be searched for under the cover of 

Erromanga has no harbours, but in several of its 
bays good anchorage is to be found. Dillon's Bay, 
opening to the north-west, is the chief. It is, and has 
been for over forty years, the principal mission station 
on the island ; for well-nigh seventy years it was the 
great sandal-wood port, and also, alas! the scene of 
many a ghastly tragedy. Elizabeth Bay is about ten 
miles north of Dillon's Bay. Portinia Bay and Cook's 
Bay are on the east side, the former opening to the 
north-east, the latter directly east 

The mountains, especially in the interior, where they 
are not visible from the coast, rise to a considerable 


height — those nearer the sea being, as a rule, not more 
than 1,000 ft. above its level. The large Sovu Range 
stretches across the northern part of the island, another 
range, with the peaks of Ungin, Uvetumungkum and 
Ulongkisiori, lying in the south. These two chains of 
mountains are very distinctly noticed by navigators on 
approaching the island, and can be seen from a great 
distance, though their highest peaks are not more than 
2,400 ft. 

In the Ifwa district, on the very south of Erromanga, 
there is a high mountain called by the natives Itete- 
winom, " the extinguished fire," because, in the past, 
whenever they went off to visit Aniwa, a fire was kindled 
on the summit of that mountain as a signal to the Ani- 
wans of the visit ; they, in turn, lit a fire on the highest 
peak of their island, which was put out when the visitors 
arrived safely in their canoes. The same signalling took 
place when they returned or when Aniwans proposed to 
visit Erromanga. Should some mishap occur to cause 
delay in arrival, the fires were kept burning for days 
and even weeks, until, when there was no hope for the 
missing canoes, the fires were tossed down the sides of 
the mountain and thus " extinguished " ; hence the name. 

The peak of Nilpon-u-moap rises near Cook's Bay, 
in the east of Erromanga ; the name of the place means 
'red clay" {nilpon, 'place,' vioap^ 'red clay'). From 
this mountain great quantities of the clay were dug, the 
people using it largely at their heathen feasts, when they 
smeared their faces and bodies in all the available colours 
of the rainbow. The Tannese and Aniwans bought 
large supplies of " moap," taking it away in their canoes 
and giving the Erromangans pigs, white shells (which 
were greatly valued), and other articles in exchange. 

As far as I can gather from the natives, they had at 


one time no special name for the whole of this island, 
though it was divided into numerous distinctive dis- 
tricts. A tradition is that, many years ago, a fan-Id, or 
great chief, called his people round him, and said : " Let 
us name our land ; we know it only as a mountain of 
many divisions and many names. Let the whole country 
that embraces the districts of Numpun ^-Norowo, Ra- 
Loves and Numpun ^-Neraipau be called ' Uviliau ' ; 
while the land that faces the setting sun will bear from 
this time the name of Ilungos." His word was accepted, 
and the whole island was then known by the two names 
— Uviliau, the eastern, and Ilungos, the western shire. 
The latter contains three divisions — Il-Efate, in the 
north and facing the island of Efate ; Lo-itnateman,^ 
in the west ; and, south of that, the large and populous 
district of Unepang. 

The name " Erromanga " came from the Tannese, 
who had supplied Captain Cook with the names of 
all the southern islands, and since that time only have 
our people known their own island under that designa- 
tion. The word, therefore, has no special meaning to 
them, and cannot be regarded as belonging to their 

There is a very marked difference between the physical 
appearance of the east and west sections of the island. 
The former is more like the other islands of the group, 
the mountains and large level tracts of land being 
covered with dense vegetation right down to the water's 
edge, and the soil being extremely fertile. On the west 
are to be seen thousands of acres of open country, afford- 
ing splendid pasturage, and a grand chain of hills, some 
of them rising to a height of over 2,000 ft and stretching 
as far as the eye can reach. The soil on this side is, 

1 Throughout this volume, the ' superior ' numbers refer to the notea 
farther on, which are arranged to correspond with the chapters. 


[Paf/e n. 


(from the llEKiUTS.) 

[Page 11. 


however, very poor, for cocoanuts and other fruits can 
scarcely grow, but it has many advantages in other 

The island is well watered ; for numerous streams, 
having their source in the inland mountain ranges, join 
larger streams and rivers, and flow through miles of 
valleys on their way to the open sea. The largest are 
Wilhams's River, flowing into Dillon's Bay; Cook's 
River, which empties itself into the bay of the same 
name ; and South River — a beautiful stream which 
winds through the great Unepang district, gliding 
like a silver serpent between the heights of the Um- 
panyampong mountains. Cook's River is the largest 
and most navigable of the three, and boats can proceed 
upwards several miles from its mouth. By this route the 
traders were able, many years ago, to carry great loads 
of sandal-wood from the forests to the bay. 

Williams's River rises in the Toure Hills, about twelve 
miles inland to the east of Dillon's Bay, and flows 
through many fair valleys between great grass-covered 
mountains, in some places with a ghding, silent, tortuous 
motion, in others bounding over huge crags and boulders. 
With a roaring, seething sound, as it rushes white and 
glistening over its rocky bed, it forms the " rapids " at 
Umpon-soli and Undam, and there enters the great 
gorge of Dillon's Bay. Here the land presents a 
peculiar and striking appearance, as if torn asunder by 
a mighty force ; for hills and enormous rocks arise 
abruptly from either side of the water. 

Williams's River is not navigable for more than a mile 
from the bay; its waters are clear and good, and ships 
are able at all times to get a plentiful supply. It is 
remarkable that, on so comparatively small an island, 
this river should attain such great force in times of heavy 
rain. At such periods it increases in size prodigiously, 


and, as it flows red and muddy through the valley, it 
covers tracts of land which are ordinarily dry. Then 
nothing can withstand its force ; great trees, rocks, 
boulders, and even houses are caught in its mad torrent 
and literally rushed down to the mouth of the river, 
where the sea in its turn meets this mass of debris and 
banks it up on the shores of the bay. 

The beaches of Dillon's Bay are covered with gravel, 
great stones and boulders of trap rock, all worn smooth 
and round with the constant action of the water. A 
rocky spot indeed this is, but withal a charming spot, 
with its grassy slopes and rolling hills, its dark, and 
yet, at times, glistening river, shadowed by the over- 
hanging branches of great banyans and waving palms ; 
here are the rustic thatched houses of the natives, sur- 
rounded by groves of lemon and orange trees, laden to 
the ground with their yellow fruits, shrubs and plants of 
every size, crotons and dracasnas in all their gorgeous 
colourings, and towering above all are fine old trees 
over whose gnarled and knotted branches climbs the 
sturdy cactus, spreading itself from bough to bough and 
forming a network of green and clinging tendrils. In 
the distance are seen the brown and rugged " steppes " 
of the southern point of the bay, while beyond all and 
far away to the west stretch the great blue ocean waves, 
grand in their peaceful calm, and grander still when the 
whistling storm-winds lash them into foaming billows 
and they roll, white and feather-crested, across the bay, 
booming in their fury and dashing their silver spray 
against the rocky pillars and up the sides of the gloomy 
caverns that guard the coast. 

In some places the scenery is very fine, and in travel- 
ling across the island many splendid views are to be had. 
Rev. George N. Gordon, writing of one of his inland 
tours, says: " On the morning of the 29th (May, 1858), 


taking with me two teachers and two natives, we 
ascended the mountains of Dillon's Bay by torch-light. 
About midday, we had the pleasure of seeing from the 
top of a mountain the blue ocean to the east and the 
eastern side of Erromanga, which appeared in Tahitian 
grandeur. We continued to pursue our journey along 
the native paths, which led through splendid forests 
containing large trees, and over living streams, whose 
murmuring waters, with the solitary lays of the feathered 
tribe, reminded us of life even in this land where death 
still reigns. Never before had I seen such charming 
scenery as here presented itself to view, on the right 
hand and on the left, as we journeyed towards Portinia 
Bay. In some places, on the narrow ridges of moun- 
tains, we walked beside natural galleries, whence, looking 
down, we beheld on either hand gorgeous valleys 
decorated most tastefully by the Creator's hand. I felt 
then that I had something more to admire than when 
walking through the magnificent galleries of the Crystal 
Palace. By sunset we reached Portinia Bay, around 
which the country presented the same rich and fertile 
aspect. Here a lofty mountain, visible from the west side 
of the island, stands in Tahitian majesty and grandeur 
between Portinia and Cook's Bays. It is locked in by 
the land, though at a distance it appears detached." 

Erromanga was visited for the first time by foreigners 
in the year 1774, when Captain Cook sailed in his ship, 
the Resolution, through the entire group of islands which 
he named the New Hebrides. Proceeding southwards 
from Santo and passing all the northern and central 
islands, on the 27th of July a new land was sighted — 
that of Erromanga, some of its high ranges of hills being 
distinctly seen in the distance. Later on, these were 
found to belong to one large island, but, owing to ad- 


verse winds, three days passed ere the ship drew near 
the north-west coast. Cook entered a small bay (pro- 
bably Elizabeth Bay), intending to anchor, but, the wind 
being again changeable, he kept to the south, passing 
Dillon's Bay, and at sunset the southernmost end of the 
island was reached. 

His purpose was to leave Erromanga and press on to 
the southern islands, but at eight o'clock at night a 
bright light, which proved to be the Tanna volcano, 
was seen ahead. Cook, thinking it unsafe to draw near 
it at night, stood off the Erromangan coast until day- 
break. A day later, the ship was off a high headland 
on the south-east, and he tried to land on a small islet 
near it, in order to procure firewood ; but the attempt 
was unsuccessful, owing to the heavy surf on the shore. 
This small island, which is now marked on the charts 
as High Rocky Island and is uninhabited, is formed by 
two hills. It is very inaccessible. Twenty-one years 
ago, during a visit of the Dayspring, the chief officer 
and I managed, after much difficulty, to effect a landing. 
Besides the boat's crew, several Erromangans were with 
us. As we neared the rocks, one of them, with a line 
in his hand, jumped ashore, the boat being at once 
pushed off to avoid being dashed to pieces. In this way, 
by watching our chance and springing on the rocks as 
we drew near them, several of us landed, and by the aid 
of another line five goats were sent ashore. These have 
now increased to a large flock, and seem to be thriving 
well. The island is very fertile, for we noticed cocoa- 
nuts, bread-fruit and other trees growing plentifully. 
The rocky shores were swarming with huge shell-fish — 
a dainty of which the natives are extremely fond, and 
in searching for which they will spend hours. They 
were able to get a plentiful supply that day, and, on 


returning to the ship, regaled themselves right royally 
on their shelly repast. 

But to return to Captain Cook's visit. The Resolu- 
tion anchored about half a mile from the shore on the 
mainland, and it was noticed that some of the people 
made efforts to swkn off to the ships, which seemed to 
indicate that they were not hostile. Cook's own words 
will best describe the events of the following day, and 
will show how treacherous these seemingly friendly 
people proved. 

" On the 4th (August) at daybreak," he says, " I went 
with two boats to examine the coast, to look for a proper 
landing place, wood and water. At this time the natives 
began to assemble on the shore, and by signs invited us 
to land. I went first to a small beach, which is towards 
the head, where I found no good landing, on account of 
some rocks which everywhere lined the coast." [A very 
rocky part of the bay is called by the natives Nilpon- 
nevat, ' the place of rocks '.] " I, however, put the boat's 
bow to the shore, and gave cloth, medals, etc., to some 
people who were there. For this treatment they offered 
to haul the boats over the breakers to the sandy beach, 
which I thought a friendly offer, but had reason after- 
wards to alter my opinion. When they found I would 
not do as they desired, they made signs for us to go 
down into the bay, which we accordingly did, and they 
ran along shore abreast of us, their number increasing 

" I put into the shore in two or three places, but 
not liking the situation, did not land. By this time, I 
believe, the natives conceived what I wanted, as they 
directed me round a rocky point, where, on a fine sandy 
beach, I stepped out of the boat without wetting a foot, 
in the face of a vast multitude, with only a green branch 
in my hand, which I had before got from one of them. 


I took but one man out of the boat with me, and ordered 
the other boat to lie-to a httle distance off. 

" They received me with great courtesy and poHteness, 
and would retire back from the boat on my making the 
least motion with my hand. A man, whom I took to 
be a chief, seeing this, made them form a semicircle 
round the boat's bow, and beat such as attempted to 
break through this order. This man I loaded with 
presents, giving likewise to others, and asked by signs 
for fresh water, in hopes of seeing where they got it. 
The chief immediately sent a man for some, who ran to 
a house, and presently returned with a little in a bam- 
boo;^ so that I gained but little information by this. 
I next asked, by the same means, for something to 
eat ; and they as readily brought me a yam and some 
cocoanuts. In short, I was charmed with their be- 
haviour ; 4 and the only thing that could give the least 
suspicion was that most of them were armed with clubs, 
spears, darts, and bows and arrows. For this reason 
I kept my eye continually on the chief, and watched his 
looks as well as his actions. He made many signs to 
me to haul the boat upon the shore, and at last slipped 
into the crowd, where I observed him speak to several 
people and then return to me, repeating signs to haul 
the boat up and hesitating a good deal before he would 
receive some spike-nails which I then offered him. This 
made me suspect that something was intended, and 
immediately I stepped into the boat, telling them by 
signs that I should soon return. 

" But they were not for parting so soon, and now 
attempted by force what they could not obtain by 
gentler means. The gang-board happened, unluckily, 
to be laid out for me to come into the boat. I say un- 
luckily ; for if it had not been out, and if the crew had 
been a little quicker in getting the boat off, the natives 


might not have had time to put their design in execution, 
nor would the following disagreeable scene have hap- 
pened. As we were putting off the boat, they laid hold 
of the gang-board and unhooked it off the boat's stern, 
but as they did not take it away, I thought this had been 
done by accident, and ordered the boat in again to take 
it up. Then they themselves hooked it over the boat's 
stem, and attempted to haul her ashore ; others, at the 
same time, snatched the oars out of the people's hands. 

" On my pointing a musket at them, they, in some 
measure, desisted, but returned in an instant, seemingly 
determined to haul the boat ashore. At the head of this 
party was the chief ; the others, who could not come 
at the boat, stood behind with darts, stones, and bows 
and arrows in hand, ready to support them. Signs and 
threats having no effect, our own safety became the only 
consideration ; and yet I was unwilling to fire on the 
multitude, and resolved to make the chief alone fall a 
victim to his own treachery ; but my musket at this 
critical moment missed fire. Whatever idea they might 
have formed of the arms we held in our hands, they must 
now have looked upon them as childish weapons, and 
began to let us see how much better theirs were, by 
throwing stones and darts, and by shooting arrows. 
This made it absolutely necessary for one to give orders 
to fire. The first discharge threw them into confusion ; 
but a second was hardly sufficient to drive them off 
the beach ; and, after all, they continued to throw stones 
from behind the bushes, and every now and again to 
pop out and throw a dart. Four lay, to all appearance, 
dead on the shore, but two of them afterwards crawled 
into the bushes. 

" Happy it was for these people that not half our 
muskets would go off, otherwise many more would 
have fallen. We had one man wounded in the cheek 


with a dart, the point of which was as thick as my 
finger, and yet it entered about two inches, which 
shows that it must have come with great force, though 
indeed we were very near them. An arrow struck Mr. 
Gilbert's naked breast, who was about thirty yards off, 
but possibly it had struck something before, for it hardly 
penetrated the skin. The arrows were pointed with 
hard wood." 

When Cook returned to his ship, several people were 
noticed on the shore, holding up two of the oars which 
had been taken from the sailors during the skirmish, 
and it was thought by the commander that this was 
" a sign of submission ". He was, however, induced to 
fire a four-pound shot, which so startled them that they 
fled from the shore, leaving the oars behind them, and 
not a single person appeared again. 

The tale of this first appearance of strangers has been 
handed down to the children and children's children 
of the people who saw Cook on that occasion. About 
twenty years ago, I heard from an aged man, named 
Potnilo-lo-intomo, a full account of the visit, and I was 
glad to note that it tallied exactly with Cook's own 
description, though the old man had never heard the 
latter. He told me that, when he was a boy, he listened 
to the tales of the grey-bearded men around him, who 
recounted, probably as they sat round their glowing 
camp-fires at night, and waxed eloquent over the warlike 
feats of their youth, of the great white nobu or gods, 
who came to their land long ago, and who struck terror 
into the hearts of the people by their wonderful fire 
and the huge floating lo or kingdom in which they 
lived. Potnilo said that one man only — Narom, the 
chief — was killed outright by the whites, the other 
natives who were wounded soon recovered. Amongst 
a few striking little incidents in connection with the 

"cook's landing" ox the KAbT COAST. 

( 'traitors' head" in the distance ) [Page 19. 


[Page 39. 

thp: islands of the group 19 

havoc wrought by the strangers, I heard of a woman 
who was gathering food in her plantation and who had 
a finger shot clean off by a cannon ball I 

The bay in which Cook anchored, and to which he 
gave no name, is now marked on the chart as Polenia 
Bay, although we have always known it as Portinia 
Bay. I am convinced, however, that neither of these 
names has been supplied by the natives, but that they 
are both corruptions from Potnuma, the name of a dis- 
trict on the north side of the bay, where Mr. Gordon 
had his mission settlement. In the same way, our own 
mission station in that bay, almost at the spot of Cook's 
landing, is called by us Port Nariven, instead of Pot- 
nariven, the real name, which is formed from pot, ' the 
place of,' and nariven, ' sand '. 

A large and very deep bay to the south of this was 
passed by Cook after leaving Portinia Bay, and is now 
known as " Cook's Bay ". " The high headland between 
these two bays," he says, " I named * Traitor's Head,' 
from the treacherous behaviour of its inhabitants." This 
headland, which comprises three peaks, is seen distinctly 
from a long distance. It is densely wooded, and its 
summits are continually enveloped in mist. Lieut. 
Rowley, R.N., of H.M.S. Wallaroo, has kindly supplied 
the heights of the three peaks ; the first or outer peak 
is 2,160 ft., the second, 2,580 ft, and the third and most 
inland peak, 2,700 ft. 

I have twice climbed the highest peak. We could 
follow the native paths for some distance from the base, 
but after a time these ceased and our road had to be 
made as we continued our ascent. In some places we 
had to pull ourselves up by the roots of trees, in others, 
scale a rock at the side of a precipice, where a false step 
or a slip would have hurled us into the valley below. As 


we neared the summit, we sank knee-deep in moss and 

Some years ago, when making our first ascent, we 
found the air bitterly cold on reaching the summit. It 
was rather a novel experience in this warm climate to 
be crouching, shivering, on a damp, moss-covered log, 
trying to warm ourselves by the glow of the fire which 
the natives had kindled. On a fine day, from the sum- 
mit of Traitor's Head, the islands of Tanna and Aniwa 
can be distinctly seen, and on a very clear day even 
Efate, which is about sixty miles distant. 

{Written by a young girl ivho was horn there.) 

A rock-bound isle in a southern sea, 

With a southern sky for a dome, 
And its lonely hills and darkening vales, 

Is the land I call my home. 
It has grassy slopes and deep ravines, 

Where the birds of the wild are dwelling, 
Where nought, but the sound of the echoes, round 

The craggy rocks is swelling. 

From afar up among the distant hills 

Comes the murmur of a stream — 
A slumber sound and a slumber song, 

That fills the vale like a dream ; 
A wild hawk swoops from the ' echo-rock/ 

Then soars to the mists on high ; 
All else is still save the rippling rill, 

And the willow's moaning sigh. 

When the cloud of night is spreading o'er 

That vale, from its depths to its crest, 
And the whispering winds, as they float along. 

Hush the cooing birds to rest; 
When the rugged heads of the far-off peaks 

Are hid in a shrouding veil, 
And high in the night the pale moonlight 

Sheds its rays o'er hill and dale — 


'Tis then that the isle, in splendour wrapt, 

Draws my wondering eyes to the scene ; 
For then the foot of the shadowed hills 

Is bathed in a golden sheen ; 
And the moonbeams touch with a silver wand 

The river dark and lone. 
And they cheer men's way with their gleaming ray, 

While they kiss e'en the mossy stone ; 

They glint on the leaves of the swaying palm. 

That bends to every breeze ; 
And pierce the web of the cactus that climbs 

Up the fine old knotted trees. 
And all is fair — so grand, so fair ! 

For the wondrous Evening Star 
Looks down on the brook, each silent nook, 

And the vales 'mid the hills afar. 

Loved Star of mine ! thou heavenly light ! 

Watch o'er my island home, 
And shed thy blissful beacon rays 

On the land and the ocean's foam. 
O lonely hills, O rocky peaks 1 

My home in the New Hebrides ; 
Should the storm-wind sweep o'er the rolling deep, 

My mind in thee is at ease. 

Let our home be in the ice-bound North, 

Or an isle of the Southern Sea, 
The love is the same : some love the North, 

But the Star of the South for me. 
Roll on, ye waves, in your angry roar. 

Roll on, in your sunny calm. 
As a girdling band round my own home land. 

My isle of the southern palm 1 

N. R. 



Though the existence of sandal-wood on Erromanga 
was not much known until 1839, the year of Williams's 
martyrdom, a small trade in it must have been carried 
on for some time previously. The Erromangans tell of 
' yellow men,' probably natives of Rotumah,^ who settled 
among them long before the white men came. The 
yellow and the black seem to have been constantly at 
war with each other, and the people at Dillon's Bay 
say that, after much bloodshed, the yellow men fled 
across the mountains to the great " Worantop " (Traitor's 
Head) on the east of the island. 

One of the early navigators in these seas, the Cheva- 
lier Dillon, passed through the Fiji and New Hebrides 
groups, searching for sandal-wood, and our bay on the 
west coast of Erromanga received his name. 

During my visit to Sydney, in 1878, Rev. Dr. Steel* 
one day said to me, " You must try and see Dr. George 
Bennett whilst here ; he is much interested in Erro- 
manga, and wants to tell you of his early visits to the 
island ". I had often heard of him as an enthusiastic 
naturalist, and now welcomed the pleasure of meeting 
him. He gave me graphic descriptions of his two visits 
to Erromanga — the first in 1829, the second some years 
later. It was Dr. Bennett who was the first to capture 
a living nautilus, a creature which is still found in the 



waters of Dillon's Bay. In his work entitled Gatherings 
of a Naturalist in Australasia (p. 377), he says, that 
after passing Erronan, now called Futuna, " on the 
following day the island of Erromanga was visible ; its 
aspect was mountainous, covered with dense vegetation, 
and, as we sailed along its coasts, displayed bold, pictur- 
esque scenery, clothed in the luxuriant vegetation of the 
tropics. We anchored in Dillon's Bay, at a distance of 
half a mile from the shore. . . . The declivities of the 
hills in the vicinity were densely wooded, whilst on the 
ledges small villages could be distinguished, shaded by 
bread-fruit, banana and cocoanut trees, and an expanse 
of hilly country formed a picturesque and verdant back- 
ground to this beautiful scenery. ... A long coral reef 
extended from the land, which was partially dry at low 
water ; about this reef I thought I might fall in with 
and capture a nautilus on the rocks. On the 24th 
August, 1829, when walking on the deck of the ship, in 
this bay, on a calm evening, I observed an object floating 
upon the water resembling a dead tortoise-shell cat. 
So unexpected a sight excited my curiosity, and the boat, 
which was alongside the ship at the time, was im- 
mediately manned and sent to ascertain the nature of 
this floating object. It was found to be the pearly nauti- 
lus, the keel of the shell uppermost ; it was captured 
and brought on board. When the boat approached, 
the animal was sinking ; but, the shell being broken by 
blows with the boat-hook, its escape was prevented. 
How vividly the bright moment recurs to my remem- 
brance, when this long-sought-for prize was quivering 
within my grasp ! I extracted the animal (after making 
a sketch of its relative position) in a perfect state, and 
found it firmly attached to each side of the upper cavity 
of the shell, which was unfortunately shattered to pieces : 
the chambered parts were perfect, and on laying them 


open, they only contained water ; but this may have 
occurred from injury sustained when the animal was 
captured. Thus, after the lapse of nearly a century, 
the animal of the pearly nautilus was recovered to 

" Not having a jar or a bottle of sufficient diameter, I 
contented myself by preserving that which was the great 
desideratum — the animal itself. Its natural position is 
with the back of the head and concavity of the hood 
against the chambered portion of the shell, the funnel 
resting on the outer concave lip, the tentacles protruded 
over the side margins of the aperture, and the body 
retained within the shell by the mantle and its horny 
girdle. This animal is so constructed as to move with 
rapidity at the bottom of the ocean, carrying its shell 
like a snail, and having the power of rising and occa- 
sionally floating upon the surface. On being brought 
on board, I observed it retract the tentacles or feelers 
still closer than before ; and this, with a slight quivering 
of the body, was the only sign of vitality it gave. How 
efficiently this animal has been made available to science 
is well known to those who have seen the valuable 
memoir of the 7iautilus pompilius by my friend Pro- 
fessor Owen, published by the Royal College of 
Surgeons of England." 

On Dr. Bennett's second visit to Erromanga, the ship 
cast anchor off Traitor's Head, and " we were surprised," 
he remarked, " on going ashore, to find a band of Rotu- 
mah natives there, and with them two or three little 
boys and a tiny girl, sitting round a fire and with great 
glee roasting some bread-fruit." " What is the meaning 
of this ? " the Doctor asked the men ; " these children 
do not belong to you " ; and then he heard this tragic 


These Rotumah men had been on the island for some 
time, trading in sandal-wood. Quite lately, the people 
of that district had come to them, telling them that there 
was going to be war between them and the tribes beyond 
the " great mountain ". They asked the foreigners to 
accompany them to battle, and give their help. " No ; 
we are not here to light your wars ; we will not go," they 
replied. " Well, give us your guns," the Erromangans 
answered; "you can spare them, and they will make 
our fighting easier ". But to this request too the 
strangers turned a deaf ear. " We will not give our 
guns ; go and fight your own battles and leave us ; we 
are not your people but strangers." 

Seeing that urging was useless, the Erromangans 
sprang to their feet in great anger. " Let it be so," 
they yelled ; " you will get no more sandal-wood from us, 
and from this time, you are not only strangers but foes." 
The enraged people started at once for the distant camp, 
put to flight the tribes beyond the " great mountain," 
kiUing and wounding many, and returning in horrid 
exultation with six helpless little ones as prisoners. 
They must have been the children of chiefs, for the 
victors were jubilant over their misery and kept them 
carefully guarded. Oh, the dreadful deed that followed ! 
That night two of these poor little victims were dragged 
brutally from their companions, savagely killed, and then 
eaten by their ferocious captors. The pitiful screams 
of the helpless children, as they writhed in the clutch 
of their murderers, were heartrending, and, though, alas ! 
too late to save them, the Rotumah men dashed out, 
and after a deadly fight succeeded in rescuing the remain- 
ing little ones and carrying them to their camp. 

Life was no longer safe for any of the strangers on 
the island, and they implored Dr. Bennett's people to 
take them to their home again. The Captain agreed, and 


soon all the band left the shores of Erromanga. They 
reached Rotumah, and the fugitives with the children 
they had saved from so terrible a doom were landed. 
Shortly before the ship was to leave, they came on 
board again to say good-bye to their friends, and, when 
it was time for them to return to the shore, Alau, the 
little girl, pleaded to stay a short time longer to play 
with her companion on board — the ship's monkey. 
Soon after the natives had left, a strong wind got up, 
and, in fear of being driven ashore, the Captain had 
at once to set sail and leave the coast. " What can I 
do about this poor little Alau ? " queried Dr. Bennett, 
under whose special care the child had been placed. 
"You may take her to England, Doctor," the Captain 
replied ; and added, that was the only thing left 
to do. 

So Alau, the tiny Erromangan, had a long voyage to 
England's shores and to the only home she was ever 
to know. At first she could not be led to eat any food 
on board but potatoes — the nearest in appearance to 
her native yam ; water was her only drink ; bread and 
meat she would not even look at. In a little, the child 
learned to like the hard ship-biscuits and, in time, other 
foods too. A little stranger, she was amongst strangers, 
but she soon learned to trust them, and was wonderfully 
happy in her own way. To her only playmate, the 
mischievous monkey, the child became very much 
attached, and the two enjoyed many a romp together, 
Alau sharing all her food with her frisky companion. 

Dr. Bennett's little protegee was s. great attraction 
at drawing-room gatherings in the home country, and 
it was touching, he said, to see the small, delicate child 
moving so confidently from one lady to another and 
speaking in her quaint broken English of an island far 
away. Noticing how the food was prepared, " We don't 


cook things like that in my land," she would say ; " we 
dig big holes in the ground and put fire and stones in 
them, and the stones cook our food when we require it ". 
On she would go with her prattle, her great, dark, 
rolling eyes glancing from one to another of the kind 
faces that met her view, until some one would ask what 
food they ate ; surely not yams always ; did her people 
never eat anything else ? Then the child, with a shudder, 
would draw closer to her friend, a startled look in her 
wonderful eyes, the piteous, frightened little face show- 
ing all too plainly that scenes, awful in their hideous 
cruelty, had imprinted themselves upon her memory, 
never to be effaced. 

Men of science in London examined the child's head, 
which they pronounced remarkably well formed and the 
brain quite up to the average. But always delicate, her 
lungs became affected by the cold English cHmate, and, 
during her second winter at home, little Alau, the fugi- 
tive from her own native shores and rescued there from 
an awful death, closed her short but eventful life. 

The Erromangans for generations used the sandal- 
wood as they would any other for fuel,, and had no idea 
of its value until foreigners came and asked for it. The 
only price that was at first given was a small bit of hoop- 
iron, from three to four inches in length, and this for a 
great boat-load of wood. But the savages were greatly 
taken with the iron, for by sharpening it on a stone and 
fastening it to a piece of wood they made themselves 
rough axes. Before that, they had nothing but their 
ancient implements of stone to work with. 

Netai — the great chief Netai of Cook's Bay — used 
to delight to tell me of the olden times on Erromanga, 
and how tedious was the method of cutting trees for 
their houses and canoes. Every tree had to be burned 


at its base, and, when that was done, there still remained 
the slow work of hacking with stone axes to sever it 
from the stump. 

" Sometimes," Netai said, " a man would climb up a 
very hig-h tree, and just as he was driving his utevil or 
' axe ' against a limb, the stone would loosen and fall out. 
Now the man had just got up the tree with some labour, 
and he did not care to get down again. So he would 
call and call again till some one heard, or perhaps he 
might have friends near. * Uvrangi, find for me my 
titevil ; it has fallen;' and he would point to the spot. 
But, perhaps, though they might search for some time, 
they could not see it." 

" Then he would have to go down himself .-• " I said. 

" Oh, no ! he wouldn't, for that would be wasting his 
time; he would show the handle of his utevil; 'Look, 
you fellows,' he would say, ' and see where I drop this ; ' 
and, sure enough, they would find the stone in that very 
spot. Then, after detaching a long creeper from the 
tree and lowering it to his friends, who tied the utevil 
to it, the man pulled it up, and went on with his work 

Such was the early Erromangan method of hewing 
wood ; and the sandal-wood, too, had to be cut in the 
same way. The ships carried great lengths of hoop-iron, 
bound together, and, amidst the babble of voices from 
swarms of naked, painted savages clamouring for their 
pay, and the confusion and shoutings that arose as the 
huge logs were swung into place, there could be heard 
in the distance the clink of a hammer as it struck the 
anvil : the iron was being cut into the coveted lengths. 

Sometimes a bit was shown to the natives as soon as 
the ship came to anchor, and off they would go, often 
away up the steep mountain sides, searching for the 
treasure. After the logs were burnt and cut down, they 


were tied together and carried to the bay on men's 
shoulders ; if a very big tree, it had to be dragged down 
the rocky mountain tracks. How they must have 
shouted ! For natives believe in making plenty of noise, 
especially when carrying anything heavy in that way. 
Very often, when they brought the sandal-wood, the 
white men refused to give the hoop-iron till another 
boat-load was secured, threatening to sink their canoes 
if they did not " clear out " at once. " And some of 
them," Netai said, " would tell us to come off to the 
ship in the evening and they would pay us, and when 
we went off, they would tell us to go farther than we 

A few of the rough characters once told the natives 
how much they would like to learn the Erromangan 
language, so that they might talk to the people and be 
friendly. " You come on board and teach us, and we 
will teach you English." They gave the natives to- 
bacco, and, note-book in hand, proceeded to the lesson. 
Of course, the whole conversation was carried on in 
"sandal-wood English," but the white men said they 
could supply the correct English phrases. The sailors 
soon learned a few simple Erromangan sentences, such 
as : " Are you in good health ? " " How much will you 
give me ? " and " When are you coming back again .-• " 
and the English equivalents, in the form of sailors' oaths, 
were duly impressed on the listening Erromangans. 

" But in this way," added Netai, who soon found out 
the real meanings, " we learnt to talk to them in their 
own language when they deceived us, as they often did. 
' We have a great navilah} " sacred stone," on board,' they 
would tell us ; ' you bring us plenty of wood, and you 
may have it' And as we prized the navilah, especially 
very old and large ones, we did as they asked, and when 
we found that their navilah was only a stone that they 


had cut themselves and that had never been formed 
by the spirits, we were angry — and talked to them as 
they had taught us to talk." 

Not until many years had passed did the natives re- 
ceive the small English axes now used as payment for 

In connection with the early sandal-wood days much 
has taken place on this island that will never be known. 
We get glimpses here and there of dark deeds, cruelties 
that fill us with loathing for the low, unprincipled 
white men — savages themselves — who had dealings with 
these degraded but ignorant natives. As the late James 
Gordon wrote : " Every beach on this ill-fated island has 
been stained with the blood of foreigners, and the 
sandal-wood itself has been taken away besmeared with 
native blood." Some of the awful tragedies that have 
taken place on these shores would, perhaps, hardly be 
believed at this date. The Rev. Dr. Turner* heard them 
from the perpetrators themselves, and made known the 
facts. " They say," he wrote, " they get a chief on 
board, and keep him until they get boat-loads of wood 
for his rescue. After getting the wood, they take away 
the poor man still and sell him for more wood at another 
place, there to be a slave, or more likely a roast for the 
next meal. At this place they will pick up some other 
person, and off with him again. If they take some 
Tanna men in this way to Erromanga, they will return 
to Tanna and say, * Oh, they were killed at Erromanga ! ' 
And at Erromanga they will say the same of any Erro- 
mangans who have been left here." 

Dr. Turner likewise wrote strongly of the infamous 
method of extorting the wood from the natives. " A 
dishonest trader will show a cat ; a boat-load of sandal- 
wood is brought for it ; he tells them to bring more ; 
and after all he keeps the cat, and, laughing, sails off with 


the wood. ... It is reported that this very party now 
at anchor took a chief of Cook's Bay lately ; first 
mangled his body on board, then threw him into the sea 
and shot at him as a target. Dating from a sandal-wood 
expedition which was at Erromanga not long before 
Mr. Williams was killed up to the present time, I can 
reckon no fewer than three hundred and twenty-two souls 
who have perished in the traffic." 

It is far from my intention to speak as if all connected 
with this trade bore the same vicious dispositions that 
characterised some. As the years went on and the 
trade fell into the hands of companies, it improved very 
much, and I can honestly affirm that there were those 
in the employ of these companies who were men of high 
moral character, and who would have scorned to do a 
mean action. There were bright exceptions to the rule 
of cruelty, but so appalling were the atrocities in contrast, 
that the days of the early sandal-wood traffic are but a 
page of misery and blood. 

Here is a passage written by Dr. Turner : — 

" Aneityum, x-jth April, 1845. 

" Hearing that some white men had taken up their 
abode on a small sand-bank on the other side of the 
island and also that a chief there has long been wishing 
a teacher, we determined to visit both parties. Taking 
Simeoni with us as our pilot and interpreter, we left 
the ship this morning at daylight. For a time we kept 
inside the reef, and then had to strike out to sea and 
along the bold shore. It is a lovely island — fertile, 
cultivated towards the sea, and well-watered. Here and 
there we saw in the distance a silvery waterfall among 
the mountain gorges. By nine, we were at the little 
island, quite a sand-bank, and, with another one, form- 
ing a pretty good harbour between them and the 


mainland. Here we found a jetty, flag-staff, weather- 
boarded • houses, piles of sandal-wood, a rusty swivel 
mounted here and there, and every appearance of a 
foreign settlement. A Mr. Murphy came down as we 
landed, and conducted us to the store, where we sat 
for a little. He said that Captain Paddon, who was at 
the head of the concern, was absent; that they came 
here in January ; that they have two vessels collecting 
sandal-wood; and that they have advertised the place 
in the colonial papers as a convenient harbour for whal- 
ing and other vessels. He says they have bought the 
island from the natives. Our teachers confirm this, and 
add that they paid for it an axe, a rug, and a string of 
beads. It is little more than a mile in circumference, 
without a cocoanut and hardly a blade of grass. It was 
considered by the natives a haunted spot, and hence 
they never planted anything on it. They had no objec- 
tion, however, to sell it to the white men." 

Such is the extract from Dr. Turner's journals of his 
first visit to the New Hebrides, after he had fled with 
Dr. Nisbet in 1843 from the inhospitable shores of 

On the memorable day of Williams's martyrdom. Cap- 
tain Rodd, who was then an apprentice on the Camden, 
discovered that the sandal-wood tree grew on Erro- 
manga. Returning to Sydney, he made known his infor- 
mation, and was engaged by Captain R. Towns for 
the trade. I remember meeting Rodd at Aneityum many 
years ago. He was a dark-complexioned, short but 
well-set, man ; had lost his right arm and his right eye 
in the traffic, and was then, I should think, not more 
than forty-five years old. But it seems that Captain 
Paddon was really the first to open a regular trading 


station in the group, to which the wood was gathered 
from the different islands and re-shipped. 

To Captain Joseph Hastings, for several years en- 
gaged in the trade and noted for his great cordiality 
towards the mission and his high sense of honour, I am 
indebted for many facts regarding the sandal-wood 
traffic. Captain Hastings, whom I had the pleasure of 
knowing when on Aneityum, and whom I again met 
lately in Sydney, was in the employ of Captain Burns, 
of Sydney. Dr. Steel mentions that " he was proverbial 
for his kindness to the missionaries," and they, in their 
turn, entertained a deep respect for him. It was he that 
removed Dr. Paton and Mr. Matheson in their time of 
trial and danger from Tanna, doing all in his power for 
their comfort, though fourteen days elapsed before his 
schooner, the Spec, reached Aneityum.^ Captain Hast- 
ings sympathised very deeply with them in their trouble. 
" I really believe," he wrote to me, " that the Tanna men 
would have killed them all that day." Dr. Steel remarks 
that Captain Hastings " was popular among the natives 
too, and some in the labour-traffic used his name to get 
men on board ". 

Captain Paddon, who then owned and commanded the 
Brigand, whilst on a voyage to China, had seen a vessel 
discharging sandal-wood, and, being a shrewd business 
man, made inquiries and found out where it was col- 
lected and what barter was required. Sailing from 
New Zealand in 1843, he arrived at Mare in the Loyalty 
Group,'^ and while on that island had a hard fight 
with the natives, with loss of life on both sides. Some 
time later Paddon and his company, in the Brigand and 
Rover s Bride, moved over to the small island near 
Aneityum, from there working Erromanga and the Isle 
of Pines, off the coast of New Caledonia. He succeeded 
very well, so much so that in a year or two he purchased 


three vessels, one being a steamer. They were all 
totally wrecked in a hurricane soon afterwards, and new 
ships had to be bought. " His intention," says Captain 
Hastings, " was to take the engine and boilers from the 
steamer and make her into a sailer. Then to erect a 
sugar-mill with the boiler and engine. He had brought 
Mr. Henry from Sydney for this purpose, as smith and 
engineer, and Mr. Underwood as boat-builder." 

Later on Captain Paddon removed to Port Resolution, 
on Tanna, and from thence to Erromanga, where the 
sandal-wood was so plentiful, and where, in 1855, he 
took Captain Edwards into partnership with him. The 
trade on this island at that time must have been very 
great, " many thousands of tons being shipped direct 
to China ". The profits, too, must have been something 
enormous. Captain Hastings says : " During the time I 
was in the trade — nine years, from April, 1859, until May, 
1868 — the sandal-wood value in China used to rise and 
fall frequently, from £^30 to ^^50 per ton. In nine years 
our firm collected 1,600 tons, which, say at £40 per ton, 
would amount to ^^64,000. The vessels' working ex- 
penses, insurances, wages, cost of trade, etc., were con- 
siderable. I often used to work it up to see what our 
owner was clearing in the business, and I believe his 
profits to have been ;£"22,400. I truly believe some of 
the other firms used to trade and get their wood much 
cheaper than we did. How, I don't wish to speak 
about, but you have often heard from others some re- 
ports about all doings." It has been stated that on 
Erromanga alone, one trader made the almost fabulous 
sum of ;^7 5,000. 

As late as 1 848, the year of Rev. Dr. Geddie's arrival, 
and long afterwards, tragic events in connection with this 
trade were of frequent occurrence. The /o^n Williams 
was at Port Resolution, on Tanna, when Dr. Geddie 


wrote thus : " This evening a brigantine came into port. 
She mounted several swivels on her bulwarks, so ar- 
ranged as to turn in every direction. Her appearance 
was most piratical. She proved to be the Terror, of 
Sydney, a sandal-wood trader, just from the island of 
Erromanga. Her mate and some of the crew came on 
board, and from them we learnt the particulars about the 
sandal-wood trade. The loss of life in this traffic is very 
considerable. Massacres of ships' crews are now of 
common occurrence on sandal-wood islands, but this loss 
of life is trifling when compared to that of the natives. 
Erromanga and many other islands have been deluged 
with the blood of their own inhabitants. The sandal- 
wood has thrown many of these islands into such a state 
as to render them impervious to the entrance of the 
Gospel. On Erromanga, the natives have vowed that no 
foreigner shall ever live among them. One of the 
teachers came off to us from the west side of the harbour 
in the course of the afternoon. From him we learned the 
particulars of an awful tragedy. A native of Erro- 
manga, who had come in the sandal-wood trader, had 
landed, and no sooner landed than he was killed, 
roasted, and eaten by the Tannese. Many Tannese 
have been taken to Erromanga by vessels, to aid in the 
collection of sandal-wood,, who have never returned, and 
so the Tannese take revenge whenever they can ; and, 
in hke manner, if a Tannese falls into the hands of the 
Erromangans his doom is certain. The poor Erro- 
mangan should never have been sent on shore, or per- 
mitted to leave the vessel, for those on board must have 
known that it would be death to him." 

In writing of this sad occurrence. Dr. Turner, who 
was also on board the John Williams at the same time, 
remarks : " An Erromangan cannot expect to live five 
minutes after landing anywhere on this beach. This 


mate himself admits this ; says he has seen them with 
his own eyes massacred on shore directly after landing. 
The wonder, then, is how that poor man was taken on 
shore to-day. We can hardly imagine his going of his 
own accord. We hear that the party on board this 
schooner have bought upwards of twenty cats and a 
dog on the beach to-day, and we cannot divest our minds 
of the dark suspicion that that poor fellow went as part- 
payment. That the Tannese are capable of such a thing 
we have no doubt, and, but for the tales of these sandal- 
wooders themselves, the thought would never have 
entered into our heads that white men could be suspected 
even of such inhuman barbarities." He tells that a 
person engaged in the sandal-wood trade once remarked 
to him : " Mr. Turner, seriously, you do not mean to say 
that these Erromangans are men ! " 

In February, 1848, the Elizabeth went ashore in a 
gale at Dillon's Bay ; all the white men were drowned 
but two, and these two were killed by the Erromangans 
as soon as they got ashore. The natives still point out 
the high, jagged rock on which the ill-fated ship struck. 
One of the men, they say, managed to go out on the 
yard-arm, which had caught in some scrubby trees on 
the ledge of the rock. After great difficulty in the 
terrible gale, he reached the shore, but only to meet 
his death. Two Polynesians belonging to the ship 
escaped inland ; one, however, was caught and killed 
immediately. His companion, when discovered, felt sure 
that he was doomed. To his surprise, the natives said, 
they spared his life. He was taken to a southern village, 
kindly treated and well fed by the old chief, Ungkerilo. 
But for what purpose ? One day, all unsuspecting, the 
poor man was killed by his treacherous host, and his 
body devoured at the next cannibal feast. 

Here is another case mentioned by Turner: A ship's 


boat had been seized by the natives of a spot fifteen 
miles south of Dillon's Bay. " They were out in deep 
water, but the natives upset the boat. One of the crew 
clung to the keel and was killed directly. The rest swam 
out to sea towards the vessel. They had a current in 
their favour, and, as the natives were busy picking up 
the contents of the boat, they escaped. One of them 
was four hours in the water, and has been insensible 
ever since. Another, who had a blow on the head from 
a tomahawk, is also out of his mind." 

This awful bloodshed! It seemed as if there was 
never to be an end. And, in these instances, we see that 
the fault lay with the cruel savages of Erromanga and 
not with their poor victims. The islanders at that 
time were in a state of constant warfare with the sandal- 
wooders. Dr. Turner writes : " They have now a daring 
scheme of getting under the boat and upsetting it. 
They go off, swimming with one arm, a tomahawk under 
the other, and a log of sandal-wood as a bait. While 
the log is being hauled into the boat, they dive under 
the keel, tip it over, and then go at the white men with 
their tomahawks. The guns of the ship are then 
loaded, some natives shot, and thus goes on the per- 
petual war." 

Captain Hastings says : " A number of vessels used to 
work Erromanga, and, when full of wood, go straight 
on to China. The Sir John Byng, Captain Forbes, and 
the Freak, Captain Burns, made two voyages each, and 
the proceeds of the sandal-wood went a long way in 
purchasing a return cargo of tea and goods for Sydney. 
These vessels all carried white crews. In my time the 
greater proportion was of natives." He mentions that 
the trade in most request at Tanna was muskets, powder, 
caps, tomahawks, knives, fish-hooks, red ochre,^ pipes, 
tobacco, shot, and tortoise-shell (with which the natives 


made ear-rings). It will be noticed that the Tannese 
dispensed with such trifles as calico and prints for dress, 
but at some of the other islands these were in great 
demand. " The calico was sold in fathoms, and the pur- 
chaser liked to measure it himself, or to get a long-armed 
friend to do it for him." 

In addition to sandal-wood, hogs were purchased at 
several places. " We paid four fathoms (or eight yards) 
for a hog, weighing about 90 or 100 lb. ; for a large 
turkey, three yards of navy blue, and sometimes, when 
hogs were plentiful, the Frenchmen would offer for each 
one yard — value fivepence. It was astonishing to see 
the number of pigs taken from Tanna alone. In 1865, 
an agent took from that island 1,500, and another vessel 
took 1,600. There were three vessels besides, which, I 
suppose, collected nearly the same number ; so, at these 
figures, the Tannese must have sold to traders in that 
particular year about 8,000 pigs." 

Sandal-wood was not found on all the New Hebridean 
islands. Captain Hastings says : " I landed seventy men 
on Malekula, Aurora and Sandwich islands, but could 
not succeed in finding any except at Sandwich, and that 
very small and inferior to the wood of Erromanga and 
Santo." At the present time, the tree, once so plentiful, 
is fast disappearing, and we have little to remind us 
that at one time the sandal-wood grew on every hill and 
clustered in every valley of Erromanga. It is indigenous 
to the soil, and grows to greater height and strength 
among the inland mountains than along the sea-shore. 
In appearance the bark, which is rough and of a light- 
brown colour, is somewhat like that of the cherry tree. 
The narrow leaves, which are of a rich green tint and 
smooth shiny surface, are not more than three inches in 
length. They stand out straight from the stalk and in 
peculiar regularity — four columns of leaves, each leaf 


exactly opposite another. There is no odour until the 
tree is cut, and the very young limbs have none at all. 
It is said that, unless the bark is removed, the wood 
loses the sweet scent and becomes useless. The great 
inland trees grow to a height of from forty to sixty ft., 
the circumference of the largest being about six ft. The 
average is about four ft. The mountain sandal-wood 
is always the finest and has the richest odour. It is 
exceedingly hard to work. 

We can very rarely now secure even a fairly large 
and good specimen. The sandal-wood is fast becoming 
a thing of the past, for the traders " killed the goose 
that laid the golden egg ". 

Inter-tribal wars, too, have helped to destroy the tree, 
and the habit that natives have of setting fire to any- 
thing and everything has nearly completed the ruin. 
About three miles from us on the high table-land above 
the Dillon's Bay valley, there is a fine forest of young 
trees that I have tried in vain to preserve. They grow 
to a fair height, and then a man will light a fire near by, 
sometimes for warmth when he is sleeping on the road- 
side without shelter, oftener in sheer carelessness and 
without troubling about consequences — and the beauti- 
ful trees are soon smouldering to the ground. The 
natives do not seem to be able to sympathise with our 
desire to preserve anything for its beauty alone, or for 
the sake of old island-memories. 

From about the time that Paddon and Edwards 
opened the trading station at Dillon's Bay in the early 
" fifties " until about fifteen years later, the trade in 
sandal-wood was in full vigour. The natives began to 
know its value, and took care that they got the worth 
of the treasure in return. During the time that Cap- 
tain Edwards was on this island. Captains Mair and 
Ross were also engaged in sandal-wooding. Paddon, 


soon after the removal from Aneityum, gave up the 
island trade and crossed over to Noumea in New Cale- 
donia,, where he lived until his death in 1863. Captain 
Edwards bought a tract of land some distance up the 
Dillon's Bay valley, and built a good weather-board 
house, with a thatched roof. He afterwards moved that 
house further down the north bank of the river, where 
it stood for about twenty years, and passed into the 
hands of the mission after the Henrys left Erromanga. 
He also built a small house on the high mountain over- 
looking the north bank of the river, and it was there, 
I believe, that most of his time was spent. After being 
some years on Erromanga, he took Mr. Henry into 

From all I have heard from missionaries and others, 
and judging also by their own life on the island and the 
accounts which the natives give, both Captain Edwards 
and Mr. Henry must have been very different from the 
early sandal-wooders of whom there has been occasion 
to speak. The natives in their employ were Lifu^ and 
Sandwich island men, and, I suppose, also some Erro- 
mangans, though every one knows that it is almost im- 
possible to get a man to work steadily and well on his 
own island. With regard to native crews, Captain Hast- 
ings says : " I always preferred the Loyalty islanders ; 
they soon became smart seamen, and very intelligent in 
the rules for working and steering. Erromangans were 
good boat-hands. For hard-working and steady station 
hands, the Tannese and Sandwich islanders we always 
found good, but not at their respective islands. During 
my nine years' experience I had tried men, I think, 
from nearly all the islands in the group, and never had 
any difficulty or trouble with them. As to dealing with 
the natives of the New Hebrides, we found those of 
Santo the most peaceful and reliable ; we were able to 


land there at all times, and I have often been several 
miles back from the sea, and was always treated kindly 
by all that I met." '» 

Speaking particularly of his own trading, he says : 
" Our principal island for sandal-wood was Santo ; I had 
very little to do with Erromanga. It was a few days 
after Mr. and Mrs. Gordon were murdered that I began 
to trade there, and landed a party at Cook's Bay, sup- 
plying some Erromangans with trade at other parts of 
the coast outside the bay. However, our speculation 
was not a success, and I was not sorry, for it was difficult 
and dangerous to work Cook's Bay with a dull, sailing 
vessel. I had several all-night thrashings from storms, 
and felt very grateful on each occasion when clear of the 

Captain Edwards opened up a considerable number of 
stations on the island, settling men — white and black — 
to collect the sandal-wood at each place. Sometimes 
the arrival of the ships would be long delayed, and pro- 
visions, of course, be extremely low. In such cases, it 
often happened that the natives of other islands in the 
employ of the traders would, in sheer starvation, go 
to the Erromangan plantations, steal bananas and yams, 
and cook them for themselves. The Erromangans, in 
anger, would lie in wait for them, and kill the first 
foreigner that crossed their path. In this way there 
was constant fighting — Erromangans, Efatese and others 
being killed in great numbers. 

One of the most vigorous and one of the worst 
characters among these sandal-wooders was Rangi 
Toriki, a brown Polynesian.^^ He was a big, powerfully 
built man, clever to cunningness, and with his stern, 
commanding manner he exerted a strong influence on 
all around him. He could make the natives do simply 


anything that he told them. The Erromangans say that 
his strong, giant voice would roar at them when he was 
speaking of the most trivial matters ; it made them 
" shake and tremble all over ". His son Owang's voice, 
they say, is weak when compared with it. What must 
Rangi's voice have been! Owang does not speak at 
all ; he simply shouts. He is the only living son, and 
has been with us as man and boy for twenty-seven 

That Polynesian had twelve Erromangan wives — all 
of them the daughters of chiefs — and by this means he 
gained a great deal of influence over the people of their 
different districts. Some of his wives he bought with 
cahco, axes, guns, etc. ; others he gained in war. He 
had many fights with the surrounding tribes, and, with 
scarcely an exception, the powerful foreigner was 
victor. In such cases he would demand the daughter 
of the chief as a token of his submission. Owang gives 
me the names of nine of his " mothers," ^^ viz. : Natuvia, 
Walepo, Horihori, Lalim, Utevo (his real mother), Ohai, 
Wosevo, Nampuon and Woleplep. About Ohai, the 
daughter of the high chief of Soki and an exceptional 
woman, more must be told later on. Rangi was first 
settled away in the mountain district, near a beautiful 
stream, at the spot called Nuru-milungos. Any amount 
of sandal-wood could be gathered there, and the natives 
under the great man were kept hard at work. 

Later on, his station was moved to Elizabeth Bay, 
and on the small hill-top Fui, where we have now had a 
tiny cottage for years, Rangi built his dwelling-house and 
store-rooms. The rooms were plastered with lime inside, 
and on the outside weather-boarded ; they were large 
and commodious. He had a horse of his own, cattle 
in numbers, pigs, dogs, and poultry of all kinds — and 
with his harem of wives, his children, stores, and his 


following, he held the position of a powerful chief, and 
was feared and hated by the people of the island. He 
was a bad man ; and it is amusing and yet pleasing to 
hear his son speak of him as a man who yiever did any 
harm! And, indeed, most natives will say the same, 
when speaking of their own relations. I have heard 
men, and good men too, speaking of their fathers — some 
of the greatest old scamps that ever lived — as if they 
were half-way on the road to holiness long before the 
missionaries were heard of. 

When Rangi went on his expeditions inland, he left 
his camp at Fui in charge of his twelve wives. " We, 
the children, were quite small," says Owang, " but I 
remember how he used to give the women their guns 
and say : ' Take care of my house and my noete}"^ " pro- 
perty," and, if any one comes to steal, shoot him! ' " He 
talked Erromangan like a native, and spoke and under- 
stood English quite as well. After being several years 
on the island, working well, for he was far from being 
a lazy man, things became " too hot " for Rangi ; and 
he found that a change of residence would be desirable. 
I believe he got mixed up in native disputes, and, having 
many secret enemies, feared that he might be over- 
powered. Wives, children, horses and stores were moved 
to Havannah harbour on Efate, and here again he 
started the sandal-wood business. But from the first 
he had to be on his guard with the Efatese. Seeing 
that he had a large amount of property, they agreed to 
give him another wife in return for some of it. When 
Rangi's pay arrived, they were dissatisfied, claiming that 
it was too small for the fine bride he had received. But 
not another article would he give, and set to work instead 
to fortify his dwelling from their attacks. 

He was killed at last by a man living near Havannah 
Harbour — one of his many enemies. This man came 


lo the barricaded dwelling one day, calling to the trader 
to look at some sandal-wood that he had brought, and 
that was lying some distance away. All seemed fair, 
and Rangi, though somewhat suspicious, ventured out, 
but as he went out he called to one of his wives : " Lalim, 
follow me, and bring a gun." When the Erromangan 
woman reached the spot, the stranger alone was there. 

" Where is my husband .-' " she asked in fear. 

" Oh ! he is not here," the man replied ; " he has 
gone " ; and, making a dash at the poor woman with his 
heavy gun, he killed her instantly. The husband had 
been murdered just before she came, and his body 
hurriedly carried off by accomplices. 

Rangi's remaining wives and their children were most 
kindly treated by a chief of Efate, named Maritimelo, 
who saw that no harm came to them. A short time 
afterwards, some of them returned to Erromanga in the 
Dayspring}'^ others following in a trading ship. It is 
only in speaking of this stay on Efate that Owang puts 
the least blame on his father. 

" He never did any harm here," he asserts ; " he was 
always kind to us and to the people." 

" And why did the Efatese kill him.?" we ask. 

The poor fellow's head droops. 

" For his own bad work" is the half-shamed reply. 

One cannot but admire the love that will try to shield 
the name of even a bad father from disgrace. 

In many ways Owang, who is now about forty years 
of age, though he looks much younger, is like his father, 
though a far better man. If it is possible for a man to 
be a bit of a scamp, who won't hesitate to tell a lie — or 
two or three of them, if necessary — unreliable, yet most 
to be depended on in an emergency, and one of the 
most lovable of our people, then Owang is that man. 


He is of no value as a regular servant ; there is too 
much of the slap-dash style about him. 

He will paint my whole house, inside and out, in less 
time than a dozen Erromangans, but — I would not care 
to say much in praise of the painting when it is done. 
He must have a small army of boys at his heels, what- 
ever he is doing, and not one of them, big or little, will 
dare to dispute with or disobey him. Under my train- 
ing he has become a good carpenter, can lay a floor as 
well as any man, is quick, energetic and always willing. 

Whenever I engage him to do any special job, I take 
good care to tell him first, " No boys, Owang ; I don't 
want any one but yourself ". 

" Very well, Misi," ^^ is the reply ; but somehow or 
other an hour or so later there seem to be far more 
arms and legs in attendance on Owang than I bargained 

"What's this! what's this! boys?" I exclaim; "I 
thought I said that none of you were to come here." 

" Oh ! that one has just brought me some nails," says 
Owang, as he points to a big boy near him, " but these 
others are all over the place and in my way. Clear out, 
every one of you," he shouts ; " out of my way ; how 
can I work when you are tramping all over the floor ? " 

They scamper off like so many rats, but Owang has 
one boy left and is happy. 

He is a splendid fellow at a pinch ; never forgets the 
boat in the river on a stormy night, but will be out 
in a cold, drenching rain, trying to make things safe 
and give us help. I have known him to swim out, of 
his own accord, on a dark night, with the river rushing 
like a torrent, to see that the anchor was secure, and if 
there is danger threatening us or any belonging to us, 
we know that Owang will be at hand. He is a kind 
husband and an affectionate father to his three little 


children, and will spend his money as soon as it is 
earned in comforts for his family. In appearance he is 
tall, well-built, with square, broad shoulders, and with his 
fair complexion,^^ good features, and straight, black hair 
is really a fine-looking man. 

Owang has never left us, except once or twice as 
boat's crew in the Dayspring, and once, I think, as 
boat's crew in a labour vessel. Again and again, re- 
cruiters have tried to get him as a permanent hand on 
the ships, but have never succeeded. They know that, 
if Owang were to help in recruiting, he could induce 
nearly every boy on the island to go to Queensland as 
labour men ^^ on the sugar plantations. Fortunately for 
himself and the Erromangans, Owang is too firm a friend 
to us, and has always refused to take part in such a 


[Page 47 



The first attempt to make known the Gospel to the 
inhabitants of the New Hebrides was made in November, 
1839, when John Wilhams, the "Apostle of Polynesia," 
laid down his life on the shore of Erromanga. His 
thoughts had turned to this dark Erromanga for many 
years, and he longed to tell its ignorant people about 
God's love and about His dear Son, who had died for 
them. He trusted that the teachers ^ he had on board, 
who had so nobly offered to go to these isles, might 
by their words, and not less by their exemplary lives, 
bring the degraded people to a knowledge of the Saviour. 
God had planned otherwise ; and had ordained that 
John Williams, by his glorious death, should show forth 
this wonderful love divine, not only to the unhappy 
people who caused his death, but to the whole world ; 
for the testimony which he sealed with his blood roused 
Christians everywhere to be " up and doing ". 

It was after about twenty-two years of laborious 
mission-work in the Eastern Pacific that Williams made 
his fatal visit to the New Hebrides. Under the auspices 
of the London Missionary Society, he had done a vast 
amount of pioneering among many of the Eastern 
islands, had lived at Raiatea for years, had discovered 
Rarotonga and commenced the mission there, and built 
the Messenger of Peace during his stay on that 
island ; he had also opened up Samoa and numerous 



other fields. The Rev. Dr. Campbell, in his Martyr 
of Erronianga, says : " A spirit of adventure strongly 
marked the character of Williams. His undaunted soul 
bore him through a multitude of difficulties which would 
have deterred most men ". 

In a letter written as early as 1821, the first outline of 
his scheme for visiting the many isles of the Pacific 
appeared. It is interesting to note with what ardour 
Williams spoke of this plan, how his anxiety to reach 
these lands never abated but rather, month by month, 
year by year, increased. " A missionary," he wrote, 
"was never designed by Jesus Christ to gather a con- 
gregation of a hundred or two natives, and sit down at 
his ease, as contented as if every sinner was converted, 
while thousands around him, and but a few miles off, 
are eating each other's flesh and drinking each other's 
blood, living and dying without the Gospel. For my 
own part I cannot content myself within the narrow 
limits of a single reef." 

In 1830, a long voyage was taken, and the New 
Hebrides were to be visited. But at Tonga news was 
heard that made this impossible. On account of gross 
and heartless injuries inflicted upon the natives of Erro- 
manga by Britishers and Americans, the people were 
roused to a pitch of madness, and were prepared to 
revenge themselves on any strangers who might ap- 
proach their shores. Mr. Williams's decision to re- 
linquish his purpose to visit Erromanga, on hearing of 
the sad state of affairs there, has been commented upon 
by the Rev. E. Prout as a " remarkable circumstance 
when considered in connection with his subsequent his- 
tory and tragical end ". But for the intelligence received 
from Mr. Henry, Mr. Williams would have then placed 
himself within the power of the very people, who, when 
at length he carried his benevolent project into effect, 


wreaked their vengeance upon his innocent head, in re- 
taliation for wrongs perpetrated so long before by others. 

It was not until November of 1839, that his "great 
voyage " was begun. Contrary to Mr. Williams's usual 
sanguine nature, he became strangely sad and depressed 
as the time of his departure drew near. It seemed as 
if the shadow of the future was shrouding and envelop- 
ing his very soul ; everything — the tearful looks of his 
people, the unwonted gloom — was a remarkable con- 
trast to his former leave-takings. On his last Sabbath, 
the last which he was ever to spend with his devoted 
wife and family, John Williams preached from Acts xx. 
36-38, specially referring to the words, " And they all 
wept sore and fell upon Paul's neck and kissed him, 
sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake 
that they should see his face no more ". The scene 
was a solemn one, and all present were deeply affected. 
That same night, at midnight, he bade his loved ones 
a sorrowful good-bye ; never before had this deep gloom 
prevailed, and all hearts were heavy and sad. Williams 
knew that it was his long farewell. 

Accompanying him in the Camden'^ was Mr. Harris, 
a young man who, while on a voyage in search of health, 
had become so deeply interested in the mission that he 
had resolved to return to England to offer himself to 
the Society, and, if accepted, give his life to the great 
work of telling the Gospel to the heathen. Mr. Cun- 
ningham, a naturalist, was also a passenger. On the 
1 6th of November, Mr. Williams wrote to a friend thus : 
" I have just heard dear Captain Morgan say that we 
are sixty miles off the New Hebrides, so that we should 
be there early to-morrow morning. This evening we 
are to have a special prayer-meeting. Oh ! how much 
depends upon the efforts of to-morrow. Will the 
savages receive us or not.? Perhaps at this moment 


you or some other kind friend may be wrestling with 
God for us. The approaching week is to me the most 
important of my hfe." 

Futiina was reached the next day, and, on the i8th, 
the Camden anchored off Port Resolution, on Tanna. 
Here three Samoan teachers were left, and thus the 
first step taken towards the evangelisation of these 
islands. Towards the evening of Tuesday, the 19th, 
the ship drew near the coast of Erromanga. She lay-to 
during the night, and the next day, the 20th, was the 
day on which they hoped to land. Though cheered by 
his favourable reception on Tanna and Futuna, Mr. 
Williams was still feehng sad and depressed, and when 
morning broke told Mr. Cunningham that he had passed 
a sleepless night, thinking of the great importance of 
the work which he was about to undertake. He feared 
that it might be hard of accomplishment. 

A remarkable entry occurs here in Mr. Williams's 
journal. It is dated "Monday morning, i8th," but from 
many circumstances it is evident that it was written on 
Monday evening, after the landing of the teachers on 
Tanna, when his mind was full of thoughts of the privi- 
lege of having been permitted to begin that mission, 
and, it would seem, also, imbued with a spirit of almost 
prophetic vision of the tragic event which was to follow. 
His last written words were : " This is a memorable 
day, a day which will be transmitted to posterity, and 
the record of the events which have this day transpired 
will exist after those who have taken an active part in 
them have retired into the shades of oblivion, and the 
results of this day will be " 

Soon after the conversation with Mr. Cunningham, 
the boat left the ship with the missionaries, and in it 
were Messrs. Williams and Harris, Mr. Cunningham, 
Captain Morgan and four sailors. The Captain after- 


wards wrote thus : " On reaching Dillon's Bay, we saw 
a canoe paddling along shore with three men in her, 
and by Mr. Williams's desire we lowered down the whale- 
boat ; ... we spoke to the men in the canoe, and found 
them to be a far different race of people to those at 
Tanna, their complexion being darker, and their stature 
shorter; they were wild in their appearance and ex- 
tremely shy. . . . We pulled up the bay, and some of 
the natives on shore ran along the rocks after the 
boat. On reaching the head of the bay, we saw several 
natives standing at a distance ; we made signs to them 
to come towards us, but they made signs for us to go 
away. We threw them some beads on shore, which 
they eagerly picked up, and came a little closer and 
received from us some fish-hooks, and beads, and a 
small looking-glass. On coming to a beautiful valley 
between the mountains, having a small run of water, 
we wished to ascertain if it was fresh, and we gave the 
chief a boat-bucket to fetch us some, and in about half 
an hour he returned, running with the water, which, I 
think, gave Mr. Williams and myself more confidence 
in the natives. They ran and brought us some cocoa- 
nuts, but were still extremely shy. Mr. Williams drank 
off the water the native brought, and I held his hat 
to screen him from the sun. He seemed pleased with 
the natives, and attributed their shyness to the ill-treat- 
ment they must have received from foreigners visiting 
the island on some former occasion. Mr. Cunningham 
asked him if he thought of going on shore. I think he 
said he should not have the slightest fear, and then re- 
marked to me : * Captain, you know we like to take 
possession of the land, and if we can only leave good 
impressions on the minds of the natives we can come 
again and leave teachers ; we must be content to do a 
little '. . . . Mr. Harris asked him if he might go on shore, 


or if he had any objection. He said, ' No, not any '. 
Mr. Harris then waded on shore ; as soon as he landed 
the natives ran from him, but Mr. Wilhams told him to 
sit down. He did so, and the natives came close to 
him, and brought him some cocoanuts and opened them 
for him to drink. Mr. Williams remarked that he saw 
a number of native boys playing, and thought it a good 
sign as implying that the natives had no bad intentions ; 
I said I thought so too, but I would rather see some 
women also ; because when the natives resolve on mis- 
chief they send the women out of the way ; there were 
no women on the beach." 

All this time Mr. Williams had been sitting in the 
boat ; he now landed, offering his hand to the natives. 
But they hung back, and seemed averse to meeting his 
friendly advances. The following description, from the 
pen of Mr. Cunningham, will tell, better than any words 
of mine could do, the awful tragedy that followed. 

" Mr. Williams called for a few pieces of print, which 
he divided in small pieces to throw around him. Mr. 
Hams said he wished to have a stroll inland, which was 
not objected to, and he walked on, followed by a party 
of the natives. Mr. Williams and I followed, directing 
our course up the side of the brook. The looks and 
manners of the savages I much distrusted, and remarked 
to Mr. Williams that probably we had to dread the 
revenge of the natives in consequence of their former 
quarrels with strangers, wherein, perhaps, some of their 
friends had been killed. Mr. Williams, I think, did not 
return me an answer, being engaged at the instant re- 
peating the Samoan numerals to a crowd of boys, one 
of whom was repeating them after him. I was also 
trying to get the names of a few things around us, and 
walked onward. Finding a few shells lying on the bank, 
I picked them up. On noticing they were of a species 


unknown to me, I was in the act of putting them into 
my pocket when I heard a yell, and instantly Mr. Harris 
rushed out of the bushes about twenty yards before me. 
I instantly perceived it was run or die. 

" I shouted CO Mr. Williams (he being as far behind 
me as Mr. Harris was in advance), and I sprang forward 
through the natives that were on the banks of the 
brook, who all gave way. I looked round, and saw 
Mr. Harris fall in the brook, and the water dash over 
him, a number of savages beating him with clubs. Mr. 
Williams did not run at the instant I called to him, 
till we heard a shell blow ; ^ it was an instant, but too 
much to lose. I again called to Mr. Williams to run, 
and I sprang forward for the boat, which was out of 
sight ; it was round a point of bush. Mr. Williams, 
instead of making for the boat, ran directly down the 
beach into the water, and a savage after him. It seemed 
to me that Mr. Williams's intention was to swim off until 
the boat picked him up. At the instant I sighted the 
boat, I heard a yell behind me, and, looking round 
found a savage close after me, with a club. I stooped, 
and, picking up a stone, struck him so as to stop his 
further pursuit. The men in the boat had, on seeing 
Mr. Williams and me running, given the alarm to Cap- 
tain Morgan, who was on the beach at the time. He 
and I jumped into the boat at the same instant; several 
arrows were thrown at the boat. 

" Mr. Williams ran into deep water, and the savage 
close after him. On entering the water he fell forward, 
but did not attempt to swim, when he received several 
blows from the club of the native on the arms and over 
the head. He twice dashed his head under water to 
avoid the club with which the savage stood over him, 
ready to strike the instant he arose. I threw two stones 
from the boat, which, for a moment, averted the progress 


of the other native, who was a few paces behind ; but 
it was only for an instant. The two rushed on our 
friend, and beat his head, and soon several others joined 
them. I saw a whole handful of arrows stuck into his 
body. Though every exertion was used to get up the 
boat to his assistance, and though only about eighty 
yards distant, before we got half the distance our friend 
was dead, and about a dozen savages were dragging 
the body on the beach, beating it in the most furious 
manner. A crowd of boys surrounded the body as it lay 
in the ripple of the beach, and beat it with stones till the 
waves dashed red on the shore with the blood of their 
victim. Alas ! that moment of sorrow and agony ! I 
almost shrieked in distress. 

" Several arrows were shot at us, and one, passing 
under the arm of one of the men, passed through the 
lining and entered the timber. This alarmed the men, 
who remonstrated, as, having no fire-arms to frighten the 
savages away, it would be madness to approach them, 
as Mr. Williams was now dead. To this Captain 
Morgan reluctantly assented, and pulled off out of reach 
of the arrows, where we lay for an instant to consider 
what we should do, when it was proposed that we should, 
if possible, bring up the brig, now about two miles 
distant, and, under cover of two guns, which she carried, 
to land, and, if possible, to obtain the bodies which the 
natives had left on the beach, having stripped off the 
clothes. We hastened on board, and beat up to the 
fatal spot ; we could still perceive the white body lying 
on the beach, and the natives had all left it, which gave 
us the hope of being able to rescue the remains of our 
friend from the ferocious cannibals. Our two guns 
were loaded, and one fired, in hopes that the savages 
might be alarmed and fly to a distance ; several were still 
seen on a distant part of the beach. Shot we had none, 


but the sailors collected pieces of iron, etc., to use if 
necessary. Our hopes were soon destroyed, for a crowd 
of natives ran down the beach and carried away the 
body when we were within a mile of the spot. In grief 
we turned our backs and stood from the fatal shores. 
We had all lost a friend, and one we loved for the love 
he bore to all and the sincerity with which he conveyed 
the tidings of peace to the benighted heathen, by whose 
cruel hands he had now fallen." 

When the Camden reached Sydney on the 30th of 
November, Sir George Gipps, then Governor of New 
South Wales, readily granted the request that a ship of 
war might proceed at once to Erromanga to recover, 
if possible, the remains of the martyrs. Accordingly, 
H.M.S. Favourite, Captain Croker, left on 1st February, 
Mr. Cunningham being on board. On the 27th, the 
scene of the massacre was reached. After a very long 
delay, the horrible information was given that the de- 
graded people " had devoured the bodies ". Hours 
passed before the bones and skulls were delivered up 
to Captain Croker, who at once hastened from the 
tragic spot. 

So fell the first of the martyr-band of Erromanga. 
The name of Williams is a name that can never die, 
hallowed as it is by the light of his noble and God-spent 
life and the splendour of his still nobler death — a life 
of one great purpose, having for its watchword the " Go 
ye into all the world " — a death, the glorious entrance 
into the life eternal and the fulness of his Saviour's life. 

Nor must we forget the younger and not less noble 
man who shed his life's blood on the shores of rocky 
Erromanga — one who had not even entered on his des- 
tined work. We know little about him, but what we 
do know sets forth strikingly his zeal, his love, and his 
great ability. He had set his heart on going to labour 


in tlie Marquesas Group, and was then on his way home 
to offer himself for this work. To us it seems strange 
that this earnest and well-quaHfied young man should 
not have been permitted to carry out his desire. Then 
labourers in the mission field were few, and were eagerly 
looked for. We cannot always see the reasons of God's 
strange dealings. " For My thoughts are not your 
thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. 
For, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My 
ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your 

In recent years, I have often questioned my Erro- 
mangans themselves as to the causes which led to the 
killing of Williams and Harris, and, although the state- 
ments I got from different natives varied slightly in 
detail, nevertheless they are substantially one and the 
same. These statements amount to this: — When the 
ship arrived which brought the strangers to their shores, 
the people were at once apprehensive lest those on board 
should land and steal their women and their food, as 
so many foreigners had done before. Their fears were 
increased when a boat was pulled to the shore and a 
party landed. A great annual feast ^ was at that very 
time in course of preparation, only a few hundred yards 
from the spot where the boat drew in. Shortly before 
this time, foreigners from another ship had visited that 
part of the coast, had stolen a chiefs daughter, and 
committed other grave offences of a like nature. Be- 
sides these base and cruel outrages, they had actually 
cut down a quantity of the yams that had been tied up 
to upright poles for the approaching feast, and had 
killed and carried off to the ship a number of pigs. For 
these reasons, the natives became suspicious when they 


saw the boat leave the brig Camden and approach the 

At once, Auwi-auwi, the chief, gave the order that if 
these people only landed and remained about the boat 
and did not interfere m any way or with anything, the 
Erromangans were not to molest them, but, on the con- 
trary, were to treat them kindly. They willingly sent 
a man to fetch the water asked for, and also brought 
down, husked, and opened young cocoanuts for the 
strangers to drink. But Auwi-auwi had added to his in- 
structions to the people that, if the foreigners attempted 
to leave the boat, and especially if they should go in 
the direction of the nisekar or ' feast ' they were to attack 
them. He had left his club in the bush,^ beside a fallen 
tree, beyond which on no account would the strangers 
be allowed to proceed ; this was the death- line. 

At first they had tried to get the strangers to leave 
the spot, in their ordinary way, that is, by waving the 
hand. Again and again this was repeated, but, instead 
of taking any notice of it, the white men began one after 
another to leave the boat, move along the side of the 
stream, and turn into the bush or scrub land. Immedi- 
ately the war-whoop was given, and the Erromangans 
rushed madly upon this small defenceless party, who 
they now felt sure were their foes. Auwi-auwi, the 
chief, singled out Williams, bounded after him, over- 
took him, and felled him with his club — the same that 
he had hidden by the fallen tree. Others, they say, 
killed the younger man, Harris. Neither Williams nor 
Harris was known to the natives as missionaries, and, 
had it been possible to tell them, what meaning could 
that term have conveyed to their savage and ignorant 
minds — all the more that evil and not good had been 
the outcome of previous visits from foreigners. 

The natives who gave me this narrative also stated 


that the fact that no fire-arms or weapons of any kind 
could be seen in the boat made them the more deter- 
mined to attack, if the white men should proceed in the 
direction of the nisekar. Or, as the natives put it, " See ! 
they have nothing ; they are nindevavu ; ^ let us smite 
them." And smite them they did. They further say 
that, but from the blow from a stone which the third 
man (Cunningham) gave to his pursuer, stunning him, 
and checking his pursuit, he would certainly have been 
killed by that native ; for the man was at his heels when 
Cunningham picked up the stone, struck him, and then 
bounded forward and sprang into the boat. 

When the murderer had killed Williams, the outburst 
of grief which rang from all the white people in the boat 
produced for the time a feeling of horror and dismay 
upon the crowd, which caused them to exclaim, " Have 
we indeed killed Nobu ?'' What have we done ? Why 
all this .'' " As soon, however, as the boat left to return 
to the ship they assembled, stripped the clothes from 
the two missionaries, lashed their bodies to poles, and 
carried them off to their cannibal feast. Auwi-auwi 
and his people cooked and devoured the body of Harris 
in their own village, and close to the scene of the 
martyrdom. The body of Williams, which, they said, 
was short and stout, they carried up the south bank 
of the river, now Williams's River, laid it down on the 
top of a large, high rock while they rested, and while 
doing so " amused " themselves by measuring the body 
as it lay there, and cutting small holes in the rock to 
indicate its length. Two such holes are to be seen 
occi the top of this rock still, which the natives affirm 
are those ma^de when the body of John Williams wa^^^^^,^ 

('''^table-land — an inland district, about three miles distant] 
from Dillon's Bay — where it was exchanged for pigs, I 
••^ measured. It was finally carried to a village on th^7 


which Auvvi-auwi's people carried back to their feast. One 
of the many old men who gave me the foregoing narra- 
tive was Numpunare, ay«// brother of the man Auwi-auwi 
who murdered John Williams. Numpunare himself took 
part in the massacre, and often described the whole scene 
to me, not always in the same words, but his statements 
always agreed the one with the other. Tangkau and 
Usuo, sons of Auwi-auwi, repeatedly gave me the narra- 
tive as related to them by their father, and their accounts 
were very much the same as Numpunare's. They said 
that had their father and his people known that the party 
intended no harm, but had called in only^ as a native 
expresses it, they would not have been touched. I am 
inclined to believe this statement, not only from the 
manner of the natives towards the visiting strangers 
and their willingness to oblige them by procuring drink- 
ing water, but also from the clear description of the 
whole scene by Captain Morgan and Mr. Cunningham. 
Had the natives intended to molest or kill the white 
men, they would certainly not have made any signs for 
them to leave their shores at once. On the contrary, 
they would have resorted to every means in their power 
to deceive and entrap them. Knowing how cunning and 
crafty they are, I cannot believe anything else. And 
even after the missionaries had landed, Auwi-auwi dis- 
tinctly told his people that the strangers were not to 
be molested or interfered with in any way, if they re- 
mained about the boat and went away quietly without 
doing any harm. The attack was made, as they firmly 
believed at the time, to protect their homes and families 
as well as their property. And, remembering how basely 
they had been treated by those white men who had 
visited them just before, need any one wonder at their 
caution .<* Not even these excuses, however, can do away 
with the horror of the tragedy ; but we must remember 


ihat the perpetrators were an ignorant, savage people, 
and, remembering this, pity as well as blame. Their 
descendants express sorrow for the deed, and speak in 
terms of loving reverence of the men who laid down 
their lives for Christ's sake while endeavouring to bring 
to dark Erromanga the message of the Saviour who died 
for us all. 

The state of the mission on Erromanga from the 
murder of Williams till Mr. Gordon's settlement in 1857, 
is clearly given in the following letter written to me 
by the late Rev. S. Ella, of the London Missionary 
Society: — 

" Petersham, Sydney, 

•• 2']t)i January, 1899. 

" My Dear Bro. Robertson, 

" I have long been waiting for an opportunity 
to send to Erromanga the few notes I had prepared for 
you as you requested. I have replied to your queries 
in the order in which you gave them. 

" I. Teachers of the London Missionary Society since 
1839. — Lasalo and Taniela were the first taken there 
by the Rev. T. Heath in the Camden in May, 1840. 
They were left at Dillon's Bay. In April, 1841, Rev. 
A. W. Murray visited Erromanga in the Camden, and, 
finding that the teachers had been barbarously treated 
by the people, it was decided to remove them. Much 
difficulty was experienced in getting them away. But 
for the compassion of one man, named Vorevore, they 
would have been starved. These teachers we*e taken 
to the Isle of Pines, and thus, unfortunately, ended the 
second attempt to convey the Gospel to Erromanga. 
Lasalo and Taniela were afterwards murdered on the 
Isle of Pines." Other attempts were made on subse- 


quent voyages to locate teachers on Erromanga, but 
without avail. In 1849, ^^^^ natives of jprromanga, Joe, 
Nana, Nivave, and Nebore, were induced to accompany 
the missionary deputation to Samoa. They were placed 
at Mulua,^" where they remained for nearly three years, 
and were returned by the fo/tn Williams in May, 1852. 
Nivave died when near Erromanga. With them were 
landed at Dillon's Bay two Rarotongan teachers, Va'a 
and Akatangi, who were the first teachers settled at 
that place. Mana acted as assistant there, and Joe at 
Elizabeth Bay. Meariki, a Rarotongan, was left at 
Dillon's Bay in 1857; Taevao, a Rarotongan, at Eliza- 
beth Bay. Tuka, a Rarotongan, was placed at Bunkil at 
this time. Elia, a Samoan, was one of the early teachers. 
In 1858, an Aneityum teacher came to their aid, placed 
by Mr. Geddie. 

" 2. The Missionary Deputations from 1 840. — Rev. Thos. 
Heath in the Camden in May, 1840, who placed the first 

teachers on Erromanga. In April, 1841, Rev. A. W. 

Murray in the Camden. The people were very hos- 
tile. Murray and Turner in \\\& John Williams, her 

first voyage to the New Hebrides, April, 1845, were 
well received by the natives of Dillon's Bay, except by 
an old chief who refused to have intercourse with the 

deputation or receive a teacher. A second visit in 

the John Williams was made in September, 1846, by the 

Revs. W. Gill and H. Nisbet ; not much was done. 

The third visit of the John Williams was under the 
charge of Revs. Turner and Nisbet, September, 1848. 
So terrible accounts were given of the doings of the 
sanaal-wood traders and of massacres by the natives 
that the deputation concluded it was inopportune to call 
at Dillon's Bay. The fourth voyage was in Sep- 
tember, 1849, under Revs. Murray and Hardie. The 
John W ilLiams anchored in Dillon's Bay. Some of the 


natives swam off to the ship. Four young men en- 
gaged to come with the deputation to Samoa for in- 
struction ; these were Joe, Nebore, Mana and Nivave 
In December of that year Mr. Geddie wrote to Samoa, 
saying that he thought teachers might safely be placed 

at Dillon's Bay. The fifth voyage of the John 

Williams, in May, 1852, was under Revs. Murray and 
Sunderland. The four natives were on board ; one died 
near land, the others were returned to Erromanga, and 
two teachers placed at Dillon's Bay under the care of 
the chiefs Naiwan and Auwi-auwi, who gave up to the 
deputation two young men, their near relatives, to be 
taken to Samoa as hostages. Teachers were also left 

at Elizabeth Bay and Bunkil. The sixth voyage 

of the John Williams was in October, 1854, having on 
board the Revs. Hardie, Sunderland, Creagh and Jones 
en route to Mare, of the Loyalty Islands. Creagh and 
Jones had been deputed by the Directors of the London 
Missionary Society to settle on Erromanga. The work 
there had already made a good beginning ; a temporary 
church had been built at Dillon's Bay, sixty-seven 
natives had professed to renounce heathenism and were 
attending worship and schools. Four more teachers 
were left on Erromanga. On account of sickness the 
following year, four of the teachers left Erromanga ; of 

these two went to Mare and two to Lifu.^^ The 

seventh voyage was in June, 1857. Revs. Drum- 
mond and Harbutt now met with Auwi-auwi, who, with 
Naiwan, pleaded for a missionary. Mr. Gordon was 
landed with Taivo and Tuka, Rarotongan teachers, on 
17th June. Dr. Geddie remained with them for a time. 

• The eighth voyage was in July, 1858, under Revs. 

Stallworthy and G. Gill. Mr. Gordon had been well 
received, and had gone among the people with some 
acceptance, and services and schools were fairly well 
attended. Ninth voyage, October, 1859, under Dr. 


Turner, with Revs. Macfarlane and Baker on their way 
to Lifu. Found Mr. and Mrs. Gordon well. They had 
moved on to the hill. There had been a reaction and 
many adherents had withdrawn. Mr. Gordon asked 
for another missionary for Portinia Bay. They met 

Auwi-auwi and Uvialau, who murdered Mr. Harris. 

Tenth voyage of the /o^n Willia7ns was in August, 
1 86 1, with Rev. A. W. Murray on board. This was just 
after the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon. Several 
Erromangan refugees were found on Aneityum. Mana 
was carrying on the work at Dillon's Bay, and services 
and schools were being conducted in other parts of Erro- 
manga. Mr. Murray visited the graves of the Gordons, 
by the side of the river, and found them well kept and 

fenced in by bamboos and reeds. The following 

year I called at Aneityum and received some sad relics 

of the martyrs to forward to their friends. My next 

visit was in 1864, when I met with the murderer of Mr. 
Gordon, and gave him a sound talking to, and warned 
him that he would have to answer for his crime to God 
and an earthly judge. We visited the graves and the 
scene of the murders, and Captain Eraser took photo- 
graphs of these places. 

" Regarding the sandal-wood trade I have already given 
you some information. It was a barbarous business, and 
one followed by bloodshed all the way from its initiation 
before the murder of Williams and Harris, which was 
done in revenge for an awful transaction on Erromanga. 
Of correspondence I had not any with Mr. G. N. Gordon. 
I had one or two letters from his brother ; but I do not 
know if I preserved them, as I cannot find them now. 
I have his little book. The Last Martyrs of Erromanga. 
Poor man! he did not anticipate that he was to be the 
last martyr. With our united kind regards, 
" Yours sincerely, 

"Saml. Ella." 



It was on the 17th of June, 1857, that the Rev. George 
Nichol Gordon and Mrs. Gordon reached Erromanga, 
which had been assigned to them as the field of their 
future labours. Mr. Gordon was a native of Prince 
Edward's Island. He had founded the City Mission in 
Halifax, and was its first missionary. He gave himself 
a thorough course of training for his missionary work, 
and was ordained in September, 1855, leaving Nova 
Scotia very shortly afterwards for England. During his 
stay in London he met Miss Ellen C. Powell, who 
became his wife. They were married on 5th June, 1856, 
and, after a short visit to Paris, they left Gravesend 
towards the end of July, in the John Williams. The 
vessel called at Capetown, Hobart, and Sydney ; and, 
going with it through the Eastern Pacific, Mr. and Mrs. 
Gordon at last reached the New Hebrides. In a letter 
to the Rev. J. Bayne,^ of Nova Scotia, written at Tahiti, 
Mrs. Gordon said, " I have no reason to regret not 
getting directly to the New Hebrides from Sydney, 
though our passage was long and wearisome. For, pro- 
bably a deputation from Samoa may accompany us to 
the New Hebrides, who, by their counsels and those of 
our own missionaries, are likely to relieve our minds 
considerably from anxiety as to our destination. I have 
laboured nearly as much in the Australian colonies for 
the London Missionary Society as for my own, and 


. l/^; l^ r/'u-^n^ 

> €-1^.-^^ /- iX^>^^-^i^^'ui — xzc^-i^- 


\Page 64. 


trust some sincere friends have been made to the good 

On the 5th of June, 1857, the John Williams ^ arrived 
at Aneityum, Messrs. Harbutt and Drummond, the depu- 
tation from Samoa, being on board, v^ith Mr. and Mrs. 
Gordon. After four days spent at Aneityum, they v^ere 
joined by Messrs. Geddie ^ and Inghs of that island, and 
the vessel proceeded to Port Resolution, on Tanna. 
The John Knox^ accompanied the John Williams as far 
as Erromanga that Mr. Geddie and Mr. Inglis might 
return in her to Aneityum, allowing \.\\e John Williams 
to proceed on her voyage. At Port Resolution things 
were found in a very disturbed state, and the other 
missionaries advised Mr. Gordon to proceed to Erro- 
manga, with a view of setthng on that island. Dillon's 
Bay was reached, probably about the 14th or 15th of 
June, as we find the vessel was at Tanna on the 13th. 

In describing their settlement I cannot do better than 
quote what Mr. Geddie wrote at the time about it : 
"June 19th. — Our first object at Dillon's Bay was to 
see the principal chief, Naiwan, but we were sorry to 
learn that he was not at home. He had gone to an- 
other part of the island to consult with his brother- 
chiefs about a war which had been going on for some 
time. We sent for him, but his friends would not con- 
sent to his leaving them. He sent word to us that he 
wished Mr. Gordon to remain and occupy the piece of 
land which he had formerly given to the teachers. The 
people also were most anxious for a missionary. Under 
these circumstances we felt no difficulty in recommend- 
ing Erromanga to Mr. Gordon as a field of labour, and 
he approved of it himself." 

The deputation, having done all in their power to 
make the Gordons comfortable, left in the John Williams 
and the John Knox to return to their own fields of 


labour. As to the comforts of the Gordons, their house 
could not possibly have been either commodious or com- 
fortable. I am not able to say what it was like, but I do 
know what expenditure of strength and time it takes to 
build one of the old-fashioned mission-houses of the New 
Hebrides — the houses of rough poles, wattle, and plaster, 
of concrete floors and thatched roofs. Mr. Gordon's first 
building worthy of the name of a house must have been 
simply of native material, and erected by his own hands, 
with whatever rough help he could get from native lads 
who might be willing to assist him. That it was not 
such a house as this even, but a grass hut, which was 
their first abode in Dillon's Bay, is evident from the fact 
that the deputation could not have been more than two 
or three days with them at Erromanga. Mr. Geddie 
wrote : " On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 17th inst., 
all the supplies belonging to Mr. Gordon being landed, 
we went on shore to visit him in his own house. Our 
party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Harbutt, Mr. and Mrs. 
Inglis, Mr. Drummond, Captain Williams and myself. 
After an early tea, we 'had a prayer-meeting, which, in 
our circumstances, was very solemn. Our brethren and 
sisters then bade us adieu, and the John Williams was 
soon under way for the other islands. Instead of going 
on board the John Knox, I spent the night on shore 
with Mr. and Mrs. Gordon, which was their first night 
on Erromanga. It was pleasing to see them so comfort- 
able in their new home." 

The settlement of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon marked a 
turning-point in the Erromangan Mission ; for, although 
Williams and Harris fell as martyrs on this island, they 
had not laboured on it, and were, in fact, only a few 
minutes on shore when they were killed. Then, as has 
already been shown, some missionaries of the London 
Missionary Society paid almost annual visits from the 


year of the massacre, and teachers from the field worked 
by the same society were settled on the island. But 
Mr. and Mrs. Gordon were the first European mission- 
aries who ever lived on Erromanga. 

That we may be in a position to fully appreciate the 
great work they did on Erromanga, let us think of their 
circumstances and surroundings. They were all alone, 
in so far as sympathy with them and in their work could 
have helped. Probably not one individual, white or 
black, on all that large island had the slightest interest 
in the success of their work or sympathy in their suffer- 
ings; while there were not a few, of fair as well as of 
dark skins, who regarded these messengers of God with 
anything but friendly feelings. The distance south from 
the island of Erromanga to Tanna or to the coast of 
Efate on the north, is greater than that which separates 
any other two islands in the group from its nearest neigh- 
bour. Of missionary neighbours the Gordons had none. 
Means of sending or receiving letters from the civilised 
world were few and far between, and the same thing 
was true as regarded means of receiving their food 
supplies and other stores. The climate is relaxing, and 
they had no congenial friends to cheer them in their lone- 
liness, which at times must have been almost too much 
even for their strong faith. As for natives, they seem to 
take a peculiar delight in not only looking at the dark 
side of everything, but also in being the first to tell bad 
tidings, and especially if these bad tidings have a tinge 
of bitterness in them for the hearer. They will enlarge 
on all that is fearful and depressing at the very time, 
it may be, that a loved one is lying sick and suffering, 
and when one needs a bright and cheerful friend, not 
an alarmist. Even when they become sincere and true 
Christians, they do not seem to understand the constant 
care and toil of their missionary, and do not sympathise 


as they might with his longings and plans for the carry- 
ing on of the work. If we find, then, that the mission- 
ary receives so little sympathy from Christian natives, 
need we wonder if he should receive 7i07ie at all from the 
heathen amongst whom his lot has been cast ? However 
absurd it may seem to us that savages should be willing 
even for missionaries to dwell among them and teach 
them something new and foreign to them, is it not far 
more absurd that we should expect them to know and 
understand anything about this new doctrine ? 

It may be asked, why do heathens ask for missionaries, 
or, at any rate, why are they willing to let them come 
and dwell among them ? It would be hard to state 
exactly what their reasons are. They seem to have a 
vague idea that missionaries bring something good and 
serviceable — some knowledge that will help to protect 
them from evil spirits and disease-makers. A mission- 
ary's presence in a village adds to the importance of the 
tribe in the eyes of other tribes. Above all, from the 
missionaries they will get -property,^ and for the pos- 
session of that they are prepared to do a good deal, 
and prepared even to hear about this new religion, or 
if they do not exactly believe and accept it, they will 
at least tolerate it. For churches or missionaries to 
expect higher motives from savages is not — to put it 
mildly — very flattering to their common-sense. By-and- 
by, when the natives begin to grasp the real object of 
the missionary, and to reflect and see that Christianity 
in itself is a good thing, they will become interested, 
and be willing to receive instruction. Some may even 
leave their own villages, if distant, in order to learn 
more, until, if not prevented by their friends, they aban- 
don heathenism altogether and, outwardly at least, adopt 
the Christian religion. And, if God's Holy Spirit comes 
into their hearts, there will soon be a great and glorious 


change which will be manifest to every one. This 
may not come suddenly; years may pass before 
the missionary's soul is gladdened by such a change. 
Many an able and earnest man has toiled and prayed 
for long years among a heathen people, and, after all, 
has seen httle fruit of his labours. But the reward is not. 
" Well done, good and successful servant," but " Well 
done, good and faithful servant ". 

It was necessary for Mr. and Mrs. Gordon at the very 
first to learn the language of the people. Many who 
come as successors in the mission field have benefited 
by the knowledge of the language which our prede- 
cessors acquired, and in some cases have found books 
either printed or in manuscript ready to our aid. For 
the Gordons there was no such help. They had to go 
through the slow process of getting words and names 
of things from any one, young or old, who might be 
willing to give them and with patience enough to be 
questioned as to their meaning. An alphabet — perhaps 
very • imperfect at first — has to be formed, words and 
sentences gradually added, and thus the first attempts 
made to prepare school-books and to translate cate- 
chisms and portions of Scripture. How hard and 
patiently Mr. Gordon must have worked in studying 
the language may be seen from the fact that, ten weeks 
after their settlement at Dillon's Bay, he had translated 
the Ten Commandments into Erromangan! Not long 
afterwards, he translated the book of Jonah and some 
hymns, and actually printed these with his own hand. 
All this literary work he did while preparing material 
for and building his own house and a church or school- 
house, besides native houses for his helpers, and for his 
kitchen and stores. All these buildings were required 
at the very outset. 

Notwithstanding this heavy manual labour from the 


very beginning, Mr. Gordon lost no opportunity of speak- 
ing to and teaching the people and of visiting distant 
parts of the island wherever he durst go. Mrs. Gordon so 
thoroughly instructed the heathen boys Yomot and Usuo 
in reading, that, when in time they became earnest and 
sincere Christians, they were well able to teach others. 
There were some Eastern teachers ^ with Mr. and Mrs. 
Gordon in 1857 and 1858; one was settled at Dillon's 
Bay, one at Elizabeth Bay, and a third at Bunkil — a 
district about ten miles south of Dillon's Bay. Elizabeth 
Bay is about the same distance to the north of it, and 
between these two points Mr. Gordon did most of his 
missionary work. On several occasions he crossed the 
islands to Portinia Bay and Cook's Bay, and visited the 
various tribes in and about those districts. During the 
four years that Mr. and Mrs. Gordon toiled on the island 
— long the darkest spot in the whole Pacific — the 
notorious sandal-wood trade was in full swing ; and, to 
add to their troubles, measles had broken out in 1861. 
At the same time, tidings reached them of the death of 
Mr. Johnstone on Tanna and of the sickness and suffer- 
ings of other members of the Tanna mission. All this 
tended to confirm the superstitious Erromangans in their 
belief in witchcraft and in sacred '' men, and at the same 
time deepened, if possible, their dread and hatred of 
their power. What an arduous field to work Erro- 
manga must have been during those years! It could 
not surely have surprised any one had Mr. and Mrs. 
Gordon become disheartened and alarmed. On the con- 
trary, we find them redoubling their efforts for the tem- 
poral and spiritual good of all classes of the people, alike 
of friends and foes. 

Of course I never saw Mr. George Gordon, but I know 
from others that he was a very robust and powerful 
man, as strong as iron, and absolutely without fear of 


any kind. It was my privilege — one that I shall always 
treasure as deeply interesting — to visit two of Gordon's 
brothers, in 1883, at the old homestead in Prince Ed- 
ward's Island, and if George Gordon was anything hke 
them he must indeed have been a splendid sort of man. 
The brothers were magnificent men, over six feet in 
height, powerfully built, and with strength of character 
in every line of their faces. 

There remains very little more that needs be said 
about Mr. and Mrs. Gordon. Their missionary work 
was faithfully and ably carried on, and is bearing fruit 
to this day. From time to time, visits were made to 
them by missionaries, from Samoa and the Loyalty 
Islands, of the London Missionary Society — that noble 
society which began the New Hebrides Mission and then 
generously passed it over to the Presbyterians. They 
were also visited by the late Bishop Patteson, who him- 
self fell a martyr at Santa Cruz,^ in 1871, and by at 
least one of his missionaries, the Rev. Mr. Dudley, now 
Archdeacon Dudley of Auckland, New Zealand. And 
as often as possible, of course, members of our own 
mission from Aneityum and Tanna visited Erromanga. 
How highly all such visits were appreciated Mr. Gordon's 
published letters bear ample testimony. His references 
to them are most touching, revealing on the one hand 
the loneliness of his situation, and on the other the un- 
bounded joy that visits from friends brought to the 
hearts of both workers. Notwithstanding his varied and 
heavy labours, Mr. Gordon had a large correspondence 
with friends in Canada, England, and Australia, and in 
most of the mission fields in the Pacific. While prose- 
cuting his studies in Halifax, he came to know intimately 
Captain Hedley Vicars,^ whose regiment was at that 
time stationed there. He worked with him in the City 
Mission, and afterwards corresponded with him until 


that noble Christian soldier fell on the battlefield, in 
1857. How Mr. Gordon found time for his manifold 
labours astonishes me, for I know well what the charge 
of a large mission field means. But the strongest man's 
labours have a limit, and it is not surprising to find this 
man of iron frame almost break down at times. 

Mrs. Gordon never had good health on the low valley- 
land of Dillon's Bay, and was subject to frequent attacks 
of fever and ague. Her strength in this way was so 
much reduced that, when they removed to what is now 
called Mount Gordon, she had to be carried by the 
natives, being quite unequal to the effort needed in the 
ascent. Parts of the track are very difficult and steep, 
and the spot where their new house stood is about 
1,000 ft. above the level of the sea. Mrs. Gordon never 
again returned to the valley until the fatal 20th of May, 
when, a martyr for Christ, she was carried to her grave 
on the banks of Williams's River. The manner of it 
was this : In January, 1861, four natives of Tanna suffer- 
ing from measles were taken to Dillon's Bay by the 
schooner Blue Bell, a vessel engaged in the sandal- 
wood trade, and commanded by Captain Bruce, familiarly 
known" there as " Bill Bruce ". From those on board that 
vessel, this diseasq, so fatal to natives everywhere, spread 
to the Erromangans. Mr. Gordon had warned them 
against it immediately, when it became known that the 
disease was on board, explaining to them the nature 
of the new sickness. Native-like, they took no heed 
of his warnings ; they mixed with those on board the 
vessel and, of course, contracted the malady, which 
spread with alarming rapidity all over the island. Old 
and young, men and women were stricken down by it, 
and yet not the slightest precautions were taken by the 
natives to prevent its inroads.^^ Then, as if to complete 
the suffering, misery, and death among the people, a 


violent hurricane came on in the month of January, 
and that was followed by others in March, which de- 
stroyed the food-plantations and houses of the natives. 
The poor people, living in wretched old huts or in ex- 
posed caves and without their usual excellent diet, were 
unable to withstand the new epidemic which had visited 
them. Within a very few months, two thousand of the 
Erromangans, or one-third of the entire population of 
the island, were swept into their graves. 

During all this time of misery, Mr. Gordon never 
ceased to go from village to village, carrying nourishing 
food and other comforts to the suffering ones, and it is 
a remarkable fact that of about one hundred young 
people and children who put themselves under his treat- 
ment only two died, and one of those was otherwise 
diseased. But the four years of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon's 
self-denying toil for the temporal and spiritual good of 
all the people could not appease the rage of the heathen 
when they saw their friends falling on every side. 
They beheved that the disease was brought upon them 
by " sacred men," or makers of disease and hurricanes, 
of whom Mr. Gordon was the chief, as he had " seen 
the sickness coming, and had told them how dreadful 
it was ". The Erromangans were, and are still, like all 
the natives of the Pacific, deeply superstitions. With 
them their is no natural "cause and effect". Indeed, 
1 never knew a single native, however excellent he might 
otherwise be, who was not brimful of old superstitions. 
Maddened by the reign of death all around them, and 
incited by Rangi, the Polynesian, who asserted that 
missionaries and their new doctrine brought trouble 
and death, the heathen of Unepang, a very stronghold 
of Satan on the island, resolved to take the hves of 
both Mr. and Mrs. Gordon. 

On the 20th of May, 1861, after breakfast and 


morning prayers with his wife, Mr. Gordon left their 
house on Mount Gordon to work at another house he 
was then building on the slope of the hill overlooking 
the valley and about midway between ]\Iount Gordon 
and Williams's River. Seven or eight young natives 
who were helping him in this work went with him. One 
of these Mr. Gordon kept to help him with the build- 
ing ; the others were sent to cut and bring denyung, 
a long reed-grass, for thatching the roof. Two natives 
— a girl and a young lad who was acting as cook — were 
left with Mrs. Gordon. 

Shortly before noon a party of nine men from Une- 
pang and Bunkil (Lovo, the chief of Bunkil, being one 
of their number) arrived at the mission-house and 
inquired of Mrs. Gordon where her husband was, add- 
ing that they wanted calico for tietdidngi — which is a 
strip of cloth tied round the loins of the men — as they 
wished to begin to attend church. Mrs. Gordon told 
them that he was working at the new house, and they 
immediately proceeded down the hill. When they got 
about half-way, they halted in a thick cluster of bush, 
through which the narrow, steep footpath leads. Lovo, 
the ringleader, ordered all to sit down. He then re- 
minded Uhuvih and Uven of the oath they had taken 
that morning on the table-land before they reached the 
mission-house, and asked if they were unam, 'unchanged'. 
They answered freely, Itnesong, nam unam, marima, 
' true for ever, and now for it\ Uhuvili at once rose and 
started alone for Saddle Hill, where Mr. Gordon was 
working ; the other eight remained in the thicket, ready 
for the horrid deed. As Uhuvili approached, the young 
man who was helping Mr. Gordon said, " That is Uhu- 
vili ; he is a very bad man, and has murdered many 
people in his time ". Mr. Gordon saluted Uhuvili, and, 
taking the battle-axe out of his hand, asked him why 


he carried such a dangerous weapon, at the same time 
running his thumb along the edge and remarking how 
very sharp it was. He then returned it to him. Uhu- 
vili informed Mr. Gordon that a number of men were 
at the mission-house, and wanted cahco. Mr. Gordon 
wrote on a piece of board : " Give these men a fathom 
of cahco each," and, handing it to the man said, " Take 
this to Mrs. Gordon, and she will give you what you 
want ". 

Uhuvili declined it, and said : " There is a sick man, 
and we want you to come and give him medicine ". 

Hearing of a sick person, Mr. Gordon at once said : 
" See ! " pointing to a plate containing food, " I have 
not yet eaten, but I can do that as well at the house as 

Giving to Uhuvili a cooked yam and also one to the 
young man who was helping with the building, he 
asked the chief to lead the way. The man declined, 
and Mr. Gordon himself walked ahead, UhuviH follow- 
ing. When they got about half-way to the thicket, they 
found the dry grass along the track burning, having been 
lighted by some person. Uhuvili, who has often related 
to me everything that took place that day, told Mr. Gor- 
don to be careful of his clothes on account of the burning 
grass. Glancing at Mr. Gordon's face, he saw that for 
the first time he suspected a deadly plot ; he was walk- 
ing rapidly up the hill, evidently intent on getting into 
his house. As he reached the fatal gully, Lovo raised 
his arm to strike, but Mr. Gordon dashed past him. The 
other men, as he passed, called out, Kik-e-paii, Misi ! 
' love to you, Misi ! ' and then rose to their feet. As Mr. 
Gordon came under a half-fallen tree on the track, a 
native standing on the tree struck him in the back with 
his axe. Still the doomed man tried to push his way over 
the boulders on the path. A second savage struck at 


him, and Mr. Gordon, raising his right arm to ward off 
the blow, received a severe gash across the palm of his 
hand, but grasped the axe and threw the native right 
off the track. Another man struck at him then, but 
his axe, too, was seized. Hearing the yells of his 
pursuers, he turned, and seeing Uhuvili and Lovo rush- 
ing behind, he dropped the axe, gave a despairing call, 
and struggled up the steep. By this time he was pant- 
ing from exertion and weak from loss of blood. In 
another moment Uhuvili was upon him, and swinging 
his axe aloft plunged it into Mr. Gordon's neck. The 
victim fell forward on his face. The murderer then 
with his axe dragged his victim down into a hut by 
the side of the path, and with the other fiends of black 
skins and blacker souls sat around and mocked his death- 

Uven, who had undertaken to complete that day's 
tragedy, now hastened to the mission-house. Poor Mrs. 
Gordon had heard the yells of the savages, and, evi- 
dently fearing the worst, asked Uven what the noise 
meant. He replied that it was only the boys playing. 
Turning with a trembling heart, she asked : " Where 
are the boys ? " Uven, seeing his opportunity, struck 
her in the shoulder with his axe, and she fell at his feet. 
Another blow nearly severed her head from her body, 
and all was over. How sad that these savages could 
not spare even this gentle lady! Her brother-in-law, 
James Gordon, wrote of her death : " Thus fell Ellen 
Catherine Gordon, the fourth martyr of Erromanga — 

and most a martyr of the four Poor lamb! what 

had she done to incur their resentment or savage fero- 
city ". 

By this time, the murderers of Mr. Gordon were at 
hand, hurrying to their homes, and Uven joined them. 
Numpwot, the young cook, got his bow and arrows 


to pursue them, but they had finished their work, and, 
fearing revenge from some of the chiefs and people of 
Dillon's Bay district, fled to Bunkil with all haste. The 
little girl who was with Mrs. Gordon ran down the hill 
and called to the young men who were cutting grass 
for thatching. From her manner and signs they sus- 
pected what had just happened, and, as Yomot, who was 
one of their number, has often told me, they fairly 
raced up the hill, and found the body of their beloved 
missionary lying in a pool of blood from which a tiny 
stream was trickling down the stony path. On reaching 
the mission-house, they found Mrs. Gordon's body lying 
on the ground by the kitchen door. They hurriedly 
tied up in mats the remains of their martyred mission- 
aries, and bore them down the mountain to the place 
of burial on the south bank of Williams's River, and not 
a hundred yards from the spot where John Williams 
and James Harris — the first martyrs of Erromanga — 
fell in November, 1839. Mr. Milne, a gentleman con- 
nected with the sandal-wood establishment at Dillon's 
Bay, rendered all the assistance he could, while these 
men, with sobs and tears, were digging a grave for the 
bravest and truest friends they had ever had. Mr. Milne 
removed Mrs. Gordon's marriage-ring from her finger 
and cut off a lock of her hair, clotted with blood, before 
the last act of love and tenderness and respect was paid 
to the dead ones. The sad relics were sent to Mr. 
Geddie, who forwarded them to Mrs. Gordon's mother 
in England. The bodies having been gently lowered 
into the same grave, Mana, one of the teachers, con- 
ducted a short service, and then the little group of 
friends separated to their lonely abodes, heart-broken, 
as sheep without a shepherd, and with their own lives 
in danger. 

By the first vessel going to Aneityum, fourteen of the 


worshipping band of Erromangans, including Joe and 
Yomot, fled to that island — the only Christian island 
in the group at that time, and a true " city of refuge " 
to those in sickness or trouble. By the massacre of the 
Gordons and the flight of their few friends to Aneityum 
from their own dark island, the Erromangan Mission 
was broken up, as was also the Tanna Mission in the 
same year by the deaths of Mrs. Paton ^^ and Mr. 
Johnston and the flight to Aneityum of Mrs Johnston, 
Mr. and Mrs. Matheson and Mr. Paton. These sad 
events threw the whole Mission and the Churches that 
had sent these heroic men and women to the foreign 
field into deep sorrow, but never for one moment did 
they lose heart or swerve from their marching orders; 
and their actions soon after gave cheering and unmis- 
takable evidence of this. 

The late Rev. W. Wyatt Gill, LL.D., so long an 
honoured missionary of the London Missionary Society 
on Mangaia in the Eastern Pacific, kindly let me have, 
a few years ago, some of his old manuscripts, and per- 
mission to use them. They are extremely interesting. 
One bundle, which is marked the " Sixteenth Voyage of 
the John Williams to Western Polynesia," contains 
several references to Erromanga, which, I think, I ought 
to quote. 

''Aneityum, loth October, 1862. — We met in com- 
mittee. Mr. Geddie is desirous that two of our best 
teachers be appointed to accompany Mr. Copeland ^^ to 
Erromanga next April or May. Meantime, they are to 
live with Mr. Copeland, and get initiated into the dialect. 
Butaura and Butaugi acceded to the wish of our friends. 
Oh that this may be the dawn of a brighter day for 
that dark island! Our brethren are anxious that, if 
possible, Elia should be sent from Samoa to co-operate 


with Butauri and Butaugi, as he is well known and is 
much liked by the Erromangans. 

"■Monday ino7-iimg, \2,th October. — We sailed for 
Erromanga to restore the remaining nine Christian 
refugees to their own island. On the preceding Sabbath, 
I preached to the natives in the Rarotongan dialect. 
As so many Erromangans were present, I called on 
Naling, one of their number, to pray. He prayed with 
great fluency and apparent fervour. It was affecting to 
hear a son of blood-stained Erromanga thus lifting up 
his heart in prayer to the only living and true God. Dur- 
ing most of this day the islands Futuna, Aniwa, Tanna 
and Erromanga were in sight. 

" Tuesday, \a^th October. — Dropped anchor in Dillon's 
Bay, Erromanga. The appearance of the coast is much 
like that of Mare in the Loyalty Islands, the three 
ridges being very distinctly marked. The interior of 
the island is different, consisting of mountain ranges. 
In Dillon's Bay, the land is marvellously rent as if by a 
mighty convulsion of nature. A goodly river runs down 
the gorge into the bay. No reef is anywhere visible. 
The natives poured into the open space facing the 
harbour from all parts. Their shouts were tremendous 
when they saw the ship. Hour after hour we watched 
an almost continuous string of natives laden with food, 
congregating from either side of the bay. They as- 
sembled on Auwi-auwi's land just opposite where we lay 
at anchor. At length Joe ^^ and Mana came off in a 
canoe, and informed us that the heathen were celebrat- 
ing their great annual festival, as upon the occasion 
of the Rev. J. Williams's landing. They were now pre- 
paring the food ; at sunset they would feast and then 
hold their dances. Yesterday they were feasting on 
Woris's land. To-morrow they will proceed to the next 
district, and so on till their food be exhausted. 


" The five refugee Christians brought back here a short 
time since by the John Knox were quite well. They live 
in one house for mutual protection. On Sabbath days 
they hold divine worship, and a few heathen attend. 
They are threatened from time to time by their heathen 
fellow-countrymen. The chief on whose land they live 
is friendly. Auwi-auwi, on whose land the feast is being 
held, is unfriendly. He is the murderer of Williams. 
Mr. and Mrs. Gordon lived in his district. It is not 
at all likely that they could have fallen without his 
connivance, if not express sanction. Rangi continues 
the same as ever, telling the chiefs on no account to 
have anything to do with Christianity, but to be sure 
to kill the Christian party. We gave a few things to 
the poor Christians, and exhorted them to hold on their 
way and simply trust in God. Joe early went ashore 
alone in his canoe to look after the two Christians 
left in charge of their premises. As the excitement 
was so great among the heathen, it was thought that 
an attack might be made. He speedily returned and 
reported all safe. We therefore thought it right to land 
the remaining refugee Erromangans that we brought 
from Aneityum. Subsequently two of the seven ob- 
tained permission to go on with us to Mare, to live there 
a while under Christian instruction. Mr. Jones and I 
accompanied them on shore. As we neared the beach, 
the natives crowded towards the river to look at us — 
all armed with muskets, bows and arrows, and clubs. 
Even the little children carried weapons. The women 
are decently attired, like the Aneityumese ; the men 
are nude, besmeared all over with soot and charcoal. 
Who could help feehng deeply their wretched state! 
We walked up the river to Mr. Henry's house, and 
found his family all congregated together in some 
anxiety on account of their close proximity to the ex- 


cited natives. An Efate man in his employ was killed 
in the bush a few days ago, when cutting down sandal- 
wood. About one hundred armed natives had been to 
him that morning, but departed without injuring any 
of his family. It was his opinion that a missionary 
might live in safety on Woris's land ; and that Woris 
would keep him informed of the plots of the natives, 
without, however, imperilling his own safety by taking 
part with any foreigner. This quite agrees with the 
statements made to us by Joe and Mana ; but we cannot 
think it right for any missionary living here to be 
without the means of self-defence. And it is very im- 
portant that the heathen should know that he is not 
altogether at their mercy. The Erromangans are really 
a cowardly race: they strike from behind. They are, 
however, so habituated to murder that to be unarmed 
would be a powerful incentive to crime. 

" We saw Woris himself ; also another chief named 
Woris who now lives in the interior, having been driven 
from his land by Auwi-auwi. He is only a boy. We 
also saw two of Naiwan's sons. These all seemed 
friendly enough. When we were conversing with Mrs. 
Henry, we heard deafening shouts drawing nearer and 
nearer. We were then much amused at seeing, a few 
yards from where we were standing, a crowd of natives 
crossing the river, bearing aloft in the air yams, pigs, 
etc., for the feast. One hand would be thus employed 
conveying their food over, the other firmly grasping 
their weapons, being especially careful not to wet their 
bow-strings, meanwhile swimming with their feet. In 
the afternoon the anchor was weighed, and we stood off 
for Mare again. As the sails were unfurled, the whole 
mass of heathen came to the beach to see our vessel 
off. The beach was black with them. There could not 
have been less than two thousand of them. Captain 


Williams remarked that he had never before seen so 
many. Mr. Henry says the natives threatened to kill 
and eat them all at this feast. I shall never forget the 
shouting and screaming of one party as they crossed the 
river a little above Henry's house. They swam with 
their spears, holding on to the legs and ears of pigs 
swimming in front of them." 

This visit of Dr. Gill's to Dillon's Bay was, as he 
mentions, more than a year after the martyrdom. Dr. 
Steel ^* wrote thus : " Bishop Patteson was the first to 
visit the island after the sad event. He felt the bereave- 
ment keenly, for he loved the Gordons and every year 
called on them as he sailed past. He climbed the steep 
rocks to their house, and spent a few hours in pleasant 
intercourse with them. On this occasion he landed, 
and read the burial service over the graves of the 



The year in which the first Dayspring ^ left the shores 
of Nova Scotia, on her way to the Pacific, marked an 
era in the history of the New Hebrides Mission and also 
in that of the Canadian Church. This was the first 
Presbyterian mission-ship that had ever left British 
North America, and her building and launching created 
a new and intense interest, not only among Canadians 
but in every spot where the money had been given for 
her construction. For though the Dayspring was 
launched from the shores of Canada and though many 
there collected money for her building and support, yet 
had it not been for the indefatigable efforts of the Rev. 
Dr. Paton among the children, and adults, too, of Aus- 
tralia, the timber which built the ship would still be 
growing in the forests of Nova Scotia. 

At the time of which I write, I was in the employ of 
Mr. Roderick Mackenzie of Pictou, in Nova Scotia, and, 
though he was far from being an exacting man, yet the 
long business hours, with almost no out-door exercise, 
had a bad effect on my health. I felt that it could only 
be improved by a complete change. And there was 
another, and perhaps a stronger, inducement than the 
recovery of health — a longing to see other countries 
than my own, and to know more of the myth-like isles 
of the south, the scenes of perpetual summer, of sunny 
skies and tropical seas. Returning from a walk one day, 



I saw a number of people in a blacksmith's shop, and, 
youth-like, I, too, went in. The talk turned on the 
ship that was now being built, and one of the company 
remarked on " the splendid chance that this would be 
for a young man to go to the Colonies ". I there and 
then decided that, if in any way it were possible, I would 
go away in the Dayspring. When I spoke to Mr. Mac- 
kenzie, though he did not approve of my wish, for, he 
said, I was simply throwing away any experience I 
had gained in business, he did not withhold his consent 
but offered his hearty good wishes for my future. I had 
fortunately enough money to pay for my passage, and 
so I appHed to Rev. Dr. Bayne, then Convener of the 
Foreign Mission Committee of our Church. I remember 
well how he listened to me as I told of my long-cherished 
wish, and how he said, when I had finished, " But, ah ! 
you should have a higher object than thai". I could 
only confess that I had then no higher object. Hearing 
that in one way only could I have a passage granted 
in the Dayspring, namely, by engaging as a lay-assistant 
or teacher for the Mission, I made up my mind to sign 
the ship's articles and work my way out to the New 

Great interest was taken in the building and com- 
pletion of the httle vessel of 115 tons, which was 
rigged as a brigantine. Indeed, every man, woman 
and child in Pictou seemed to feel as if the Dayspring 
were personal property, and so the launching took place 
amidst intense enthusiasm. Among the crowd of spec- 
tators that day were Mr. Mackenzie, who is now a 
fellow-worker with me on the New Hebrides Mission, 
and myself. All was pleasurable excitement, when, as 
our noble little craft slowly glided down to the water, 
she was christened by the ever-appropriate name of the 


Heaven speed the canvas, gallantly unfurl'd, 
To furnish and accommodate a world ; 
To give the pole the produce of the sun, 
And knit th' unsocial climates into one. 
Soft airs and gentle headings of the wave 
Impel the fleet whose errand is to save — 
To succour wasted regions, and replace 
The smile of Opulence on Sorrow's face. 
Let nothing adverse, nothing unforeseen, 
Impede the bark that ploughs the deep serene, 
Charged with a freight, transcending in its worth 
The gems of India— Nature's rarest birth; 
That flies, like Gabriel on his Lord's commands, 
A herald of God's love to pagan lands. 


After some time spent at Pictou and Charlotte Town, 
during which the vessel was thrown open for inspection, 
the Day spring arrived at Halifax in October, and here 
again great numbers of interested friends visited her 
daily. The night before she had sailed from Pictou, a 
valedictory meeting was held in the Prince's Street 
Church, presided over by the Rev. Dr. Bayne, who, with 
Rev. Dr. Roy, addressed the large gathering. I re- 
member well the words of each of the three missionaries, 
and was specially struck with the intense earnestness of 
one of them — Mr. Morrison. He did not dread, he 
said, the work before him, the heathen, the terrors of 
the deep ; " but," he added., " what I am afraid of is my 
own heart ". It was afterwards his faithful, brave heart 
that kept him up through sickness, sorrow and loneliness 
on the islands till the welcome " rest after weariness " 
came. After Mr. Morrison's address, Mr. M'Culloch 
spoke, followed by Mr. James Douglas Gordon (the 
brother of the murdered missionary), who told his 
listeners not to be too much elated, to remember that 
seven years ago that night they had said farewell to Mr. 
and Mrs. Matheson, and that now they must think of 
the sad reverses on Tanna and Erromanga. In Halifax 


another large meeting was held. Dr. Bayne again pre- 
sided, the three missionaries and others addressing the 
numbers who gathered to hear them. 

On the day following, that is, the 7th of November, 
1863, the Day spring left Halifax, the departure being 
witnessed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of friends. 
As the beautiful little vessel left her moorings and sailed 
slowly away, I looked back from her deck ctnd saw a 
great cloud of white handkerchiefs waving good-bye, 
and heard cheer after cheer rising from the throng. We 
were told afterwards that Dr. Bayne both cheered and 
wept. Turning round, I saw Mr. Gordon sitting by, 
and looking strangely and steadily back on the fast- 
receding shores of his native land — the home which he 
was never to see again — then, hiding his face in his 
hands, he broke forth into weeping. " Weep ye not 
for the dead, neither bemoan him; but weep sore for 
him that goeth away ; for he shall return no more, 
nor see his native country " (Jer. xxii. 10). 

We had lovely weather all the way from Halifax to 
the Cape of Good Hope, and the pleasant but uneventful 
run of six weeks' duration was enjoyed by all. We only 
once came across a ship. Our Captain Fraser ^ hove-to, 
and sent Mr. Currie, the chief officer, to her, who found 
that the strangers were short of food and coals. The 
Dayspring was able to supply them, and when Mr. 
Currie returned he showed us a bunch of green bananas 
— the first tropical fruit I had ever seen. I was in- 
terested in those bananas, so much so that Mr. Currie 
got interested in me! 

" Would you like to try one .? " he said. 

" Very much," I replied ; " how is it eaten .-• " 

" Just take a good bite," said he ; " no, don't bother 
taking the skin off ; you won't get half the right flavour 
that way." 


It was a long time before I forgot, or was allowed 
to forget, my first taste of that luscious fruit of the 
South, and of the day when I was " green " enough to 
try and eat a green banana, skin and all. The only 
thing that cheered me up when I thought of it was that 
I was not the only fool who had ever been taken in by 
a sailor. If there is one thing that people seem to have 
unbounded and blissful ignorance about, it is life in the 
tropics and tropical fruit. " How pleasant it must be," 
some one once said, " to sit with a book under the 
shade of a pine-apple! " And I know of a gentleman 
in Fiji to whom a friend remarked : " It must be delight- 
ful to he under the shade of a bread-fruit tree and let 
the bread-fruit drop into your mouth ". " That would 
be very much the same sensation as when a good-sized 
pumpkin drops into your mouth from a height of about 
thirty feet," he replied. 

It was in January of 1864 that we reached the Cape 
of Good Hope, anchoring in Table Bay on a lovely 
Sunday morning. We spent eleven days there, Mr. 
Gordon during that time being the guest of the Rev. 
Mr. Thompson, with whom Mr. and Mrs. George N. 
Gordon had stayed, seven years before, when on their 
way to the New Hebrides. From Mr. and Mrs. 
Thompson and Mr. Solomon, an influential gentleman, 
head of a printing establishment in the town, we received 
much kindness, and the stay at the Cape was fraught 
with many pleasant memories to one and all. 

Arriving in Melbourne in March, the Dayspring got 
a warm welcome — indeed, an enthusiastic one — from the 
many friends of the Mission there. Not the least of 
the pleasure to us was our meeting with the noble 
Father of the Mission, Mr. Geddie, and his devoted 
wife. Mr. and Mrs. Geddie had landed on Aneityum in 
the year 1848, and were now returning to their native 


land of Canada after a long absence. Sixteen years of 
earnest and self-denying work had been done among 
the people of Aneityum, which was their station, and 
many other of the islands had been visited by Mr. 
Geddie. His was a spirit akin to that of Williams ; 
he was not content to confine his ministrations to one 
island, but, in his zeal, would have given himself, his 
strength, and his hfe, if need be, to the task of evangelis- 
ing the many. As I looked at the heroic couple for 
the first time, though I had long known of them, the 
name of " Geddie " being almost a household word 
with us in Canada, I saw my ideals of true missionaries. 
At this time they were in deep sorrow ; Mrs. Geddie 
bowed down with grief at the loss of a darling child ; 
but their thought was ever for others and of their 
people left behind, in whose hearts they had been 
helped, by God's grace, to work such a divine change. 
It is worthy of note that for the long period of fifteen 
years Mrs. Geddie had never once been off the island of 
Aneityum, but, when we saw her, though grief-stricken 
and worn with work, her face still wore the charm of 
an early beauty. At the outset of their labours they 
were four years alone on Aneityum ; then they were 
joined by the Rev. John Inglis and Mrs. Inglis, from the 
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the same 
Church which had furnished the Rev. J. G. Paton for 
the Mission ; and from that time onwards the two 
missionaries and their wives had worked together on 
Aneityum — the G eddies at Anelcauhat, the principal 
port, and the others at Aname, on the north coast. Dur- 
ing that time, the whole of the New Testament had been 
translated and been printed in the language of the 
people, and Mr. Geddie had now the Book of Psalms 
in manuscript, which he intended to get printed in Hali- 
fax on his return to his own country. 


At the date of our arrival there was no agent for the 
New Hebrides Mission in the Colonies, but, during the 
stay of the Dayspring in Melbourne, the Rev. J. P. 
Sunderland, of the London Missionary Society, took a 
great interest in her, and was daily to be seen showing 
the numerous visitors — mostly children — all over the 
vessel, for she was " the children's ship ".^ He never 
grew tired — or, if he did, never showed it in his manner 
— of explaining, in his bright and graphic way, every 
little detail in connection with that vessel which seemed 
to have so charming a place in the hearts of the eager 
little ones. I remember how he used to bring a crowd 
of boys and girls into the cabin, and say, " Now, children, 
if you put a penny in that box, I'll show you a real 
missionary ". In would tumble the pennies, and Mr. 
Geddie would be introduced to the expectant crowd. 
" Now, another penny, and you'll see something you 
never saw before — a little native of Aneityum." When, 
after some fumbling in pockets, the pennies would again 
clink into the box, and they clamoured for a sight of 
the " little native," Mr. Sunderland would show Mrs. 
Geddie's child. " She's not black," the children would 
exclaim. " Ah ! but she's a native — a real one," he 
would laughingly reply. And so on from one part of 
the ship to another he guided each party of children, 
always interesting, always ready to explain matters and 
answer their numerous questions. Through Mr. Geddie's 
thoughtful kindness, I had the honour— one I shall 
never forget — of being introduced to Captain Morgan, 
who had commanded the London Missionary Society's 
ships, the Camden * and, afterwards, the John Williams 
for so long. He was dark, somewhat below the average 
height, and had a most gentle and kindly manner. In 
introducing me Mr. Geddie remarked : " We always look 


upon our friend, Captain Morgan, more as a missionary 
than as a captain ". 

From Aneityum Mr. and Mrs. Geddie had brought 
with them Lathella, then the foremost chief and, perhaps, 
the leading man in every way on the island, and also 
his wife and child, intending to take them to Canada, 
where their presence could not have failed to create 
a deep interest. Owing, however, to their poor health, 
Mr. Geddie was afraid to risk taking them to such a 
cold climate, and they were to return with us to Aneit- 
yum. Every incident so impressed itself on my memory 
at that time that I can recall, as if it were yesterday, 
the day on which I first saw Lathella. I was standing 
on the deck with Mr. Currie, the chief officer, and Mr. 
Reid, the second, when we caught sight of him — a tall, 
very black but handsome man, scrupulously attired in 
black, his long clerical coat of alpaca just the fashionable 
length. He came nearer, holding himself erect, looking 
grave and dignified, stopped as he reached us, raised 
his black hat, gave a most stately bow, and presented 
us with his card on which was inscribed " Lathella, High 
Chief of Aneityum ". But Lathella was one of nature's 
gentlemen, and was just as courteous and refined when 
dressed in his simple island attire of a shirt and coloured 
lava-lava,^ bare-footed and bare-headed, as when he 
donned the European costume and with it European 
manners. It was Lathella who gave me my first lesson 
in the Aneityumese language. 

While we were in Melbourne, Captain Eraser asked 
Mr. Geddie if he knew of a good situation for a young 
man who had been brought up to business. Captain 
Eraser, I may mention, had given me the option of 
leaving the Dayspring at Capetown if I so desired, 
and had been a kind friend and adviser throughout the 
trip. Mr. Geddie at once replied that he knew of just 


such a position. An agent, to be on Aneityum, was 
wanted by a cotton company which had its headquarters 
in Glasgow ; a young man who would live on the island, 
buy the cotton from the natives, and ship it to Scotland. 
Messrs. Geddie and Inglis had a power of attorney from 
them, and were at that very time on the look-out for 
some one to take the post. This seemed to me the 
very thing I wanted, and also to the captain, who 
strongly advised me to apply for the agentship. I had 
had more of a longing to see life in the islands than in 
the Colonies, and here was my chance. Though I was 
deeply interested in the mission and could not think 
highly enough of those engaged in it, I could not 
honestly, at that time, have taken any post in the 
mission-field. My heart would not have been in my 
work, and, as I understand it, it would not only have 
been unwise but wrong in the extreme for me to attempt 
such duties in that spirit. Doubtless^, an all-wise God 
was leading me in this way to my life-work, and I can 
never look on the years spent in a business capacity 
on Aneityum as so much time lost, but rather as years 
of preparation. I did not at once have the appointment 
given to me. Mr. Geddie decided to leave the matter 
in the hands of Mr. Inglis, who, being on Aneityum at 
the time, could perhaps judge better of my fitness for 
the duties. 

Meanwhile at Melbourne, Williamstown, and Geelong 
we met with much kindness, and a meeting was arranged 
at Geelong to bid farewell to the Dayspring and her 
passengers. At that meeting Mr. Gordon paid a tribute 
of praise to Mr. Geddie, speaking of his long and 
arduous years in the islands, and adding, at the close 
of his remarks — as he mentioned that he himself and 
those who had come with him in the Dayspring were 
only starting their work — the words, " Let not him that 


girdeth on his armour boast himself as he that putteth 
it off" (i Kings xx. II). 

In April we arrived in Sydney, where a month was 
spent, Captain Eraser having decided to have a new deck- 
house built. Among the first visitors that came to the 
ship were the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Buzacott of Rarotonga, 
Mr. Macdonald, a staunch friend of the Mission, and Mr. 
J. H. Goodlet, then quite a young man, who was acting 
as secretary and treasurer for the Dayspring. Dr. 
Ross, of the London Missionary Society, afterwards 
kindly took these duties upon himself until the Rev. 
Dr. Macdonald, of Emerald Hill Presbyterian Church, 
Melbourne, was appointed agent for the New Hebrides 
Mission. At Sydney again crowds of visitors flocked 
to see the vessel ; children, all aglow with excitement, 
speaking of " our ship ". As Canadians, some of us, 
I must confess, felt a little indignant that they thus 
claimed her. " She is our ship," we would reply ; " we 
built and paid for her." But they were just as certain 
that their money had paid for her, and that she belonged 
to them. We were all in the right ; for the little vessel 
belonged to the young people of both countries, and 
every child who had willingly given his mite and thus 
owned a nail or plank, as he strutted along the deck, felt 
as proud, I verily believe, as if the ship, her cargo, 
and every one in her belonged to him alone. And it 
was well that it was so ; for the very fact of calling her 
" the children's ship " seemed to endear the Dayspring 
to them all. 

The stay in Sydney was a most pleasant one. A 
party of Aneityumese men, who were acting as crew 
of a trading vessel, came off one day to inspect our ship, 
and I heard from them that their vessel would be leaving 
for the islands sooner than the Dayspring. This 
seemed a splendid chance of sending a letter, and, as all 


the missionaries were on shore, I wrote myself to the 
Rev. J. Copeland, our missionary there, telhng him that 
the Dayspring would be at Aneityum in a month's time. 
Mr. Copeland, on receiving it, was inclined to think 
that an Irishman had written the note, as no date ap- 
peared at the head of it, but, by making inquiries of the 
men to whom I had given it, he found out the probable 
time of writing. When we left the port of Sydney, 
friends from far and near came to the farewell service. 
It was presided over by one who was ever a staunch 
believer in missions — my revered and now sainted 
friend,^ the Rev. Dr. Steel of St. Stephen's Presbyterian 
Church. I recall the hthe, handsome figure, the bright 
glowing countenance, as, roll in hand, he spoke — as Dr. 
Steel only could speak — words of loving cheer to those 
who were about to leave. He closed by quoting Dr. 
Judson's reply to a friend who asked what were the 
promises of the Burmese Mission, " Bright as the pro- 
mises of God's Word ". 

At Sydney, the number of the Dayspring s passengers 
was increased by the addition of the Rev. S. Ella, Mrs. 
Ella and their three children. Mr. Ella had for many 
years been connected with the Samoan Mission, and 
was now on his way to Uvea, in the Loyalty Islands, 
off New Caledonia, expecting to join the John 
Williams at Aneityum. This was the first opportunity 
that the Presbyterian Mission had had to repay, in some 
little way, the untold kindnesses of the London Mis- 
sionary Society to their workers in the New Hebrides, 
who, during all the years that they had had no vessel 
of their own, had been regularly visited on their islands 
by the John Williams, and helped in every possible way. 
Mr. Ella was then in the prime of life, in appearance 
dark and slight. Gentle and courteous, he was a 
thorough English gentleman, and, like Mr. Geddie, 


my ideal of what a missionary should be. His work 
and people seemed to be ever in his thoughts, and it 
was a great trial to him that, on going to the Loyalty 
Islands, he was not allowed by the French to land. 
Mrs. Ella, an Irish lady of exceptionally high culture, 
charmed us all with her graphic and realistic descriptions 
of island life and Samoan etiquette. I could never tire 
listening to her and of hearing the gentle, refined voice 
describe in such an interesting and pleasing manner 
scenes and people that were so strange and yet so 
fascinating to me. The charming Irish tact, the graceful 
compliments, the kind and sincere heart, endeared Mrs. 
Ella to one and all. She has only just been " called 
home," and the blank which she has left in many 
hearts can never be filled, and her husband has since 
followed her. Her long life of love, her high Christian 
character and deep sympathy with every one, whether 
in trouble or joy, will always be remembered by those 
who have been able to call her a friend. On board 
the little Dayspring began the acquaintance with Mr. 
and Mrs. Ella and their family, a friendship that lasted 
for over thirty-five years. Their kindness to me and 
mine I can never forget. There were also on board 
the mission-ship Simeoni, an educated Aitutaki teacher, 
and his wife, who were afterwards settled at Erakor, 
on the island of Efate. 

A gale near the Isle of Pines, at the southern end of 
New Caledonia — the only bad weather since leaving 
Halifax — detained us somewhat, but about a fortnight 
after leaving Sydney we sighted Tanna, and the next 
day, 5 th June, 1864, at nine o'clock in the morning, 
we cast anchor in Anelcauhat Harbour of Aneityum. 
Thirty-seven years have passed since then, and yet that 
beautiful Sabbath morning and all that took place dur- 
ing the day is as clear in my mind now as it was 


then, so many years ago. I cannot forget the strange 
charm of the island scenery, the lovely little harbour of 
Anelcauhat, with its blue, blue waters, fringed on the 
south by the small coral islands of Inyug and Nevin- 
yughas. As we drew nearer to our anchorage, we 
caught a glimpse of a fine substantial church and also 
of the mission-house — a low, rambling cottage with 
thatched roof, half-concealed amid the tall waving leaves 
of the cocoanut palms ; if you add to this the sight of 
the fair blue sky over all, you have the picture of 
Anelcauhat as I first saw it on that never-to-be-forgotten 

That very morning, Mr. Copeland had gone to the 
summit of the little hill Nigthima, at the back of the 
mission-house, to see if there was any sign of the vessel. 
On reaching the highest point, the little Dayspring was 
in view. Hurrying back, he conducted morning service, 
and by the time that was over we had reached the 
anchorage. From the deck of the ship we could see 
the people streaming out of the church in hundreds. 
Very soon Mr. Copeland, with his crew of Aneityumese, 
left the shore, the boat being eagerly watched by us 
all. How disappointed I was in the appearance of the 
natives! I had been expecting to see a fine, stalwart 
race, like our North American Indians ; these men were 
very different. 

Mr. Copeland did not wait for the ladder to be lowered, 
but clambered up the side of the ship, and, with Mr. 
Morrison's help, sprang on deck. It was arranged that 
he should bring Mrs. Copeland off in the afternoon, 
that all might unite in a thanksgiving service for the 
safe arrival of the Dayspring. This was accordingly 
done, and, a pulpit being rigged on deck, Mr. Copeland 
gave a short address and engaged in prayer, Mr. Morri- 
son acting as chairman. During Mr. Copeland's first 


visit to the Dayspring, a very touching incident took 
place. Umo, an Erromangan who accompanied him, 
threw himself at Mr. Gordon's feet and clung to him, 
weeping like a child. He had recognised him by his 
strong likeness to his martyred brother. Little did we 
then think that in a few years James Gordon, too, would 
fall, and by the hand of an Erromangan. After the 
service, all the missionaries landed but Mr. and Mrs. Ella. 
Later in the afternoon Mr. Reid, the second officer, and 
I went on shore, and walked along the beach as far as 
the grave of Mrs. Matheson, whom Mr. Reid had known 
in Canada. Towards noon the next day we caught 
sight of a boat, and, as it drew nearer, saw some one 
sitting in the stern, dressed in a white suit and broad 
Panama hat, round which was wound a turban, and 
carrying a large green umbrella. This was the Rev. 
John Inglis, of Aname, who had come as soon as pos- 
sible to the harbour to welcome the new arrivals. On 
Wednesday, Lathella, who had returned with us from 
Melbourne, brought a handsome present of native food — 
taro, pigs, fowls, cocoanuts, sugar-cane, yams — to the 
Dayspring, and was cordially thanked by the captain 
for his kindness. That same evening, Mrs. Copeland 
gave an invitation to us all to come to an " island 
supper " at her house. Through the kindness of Mr. 
Morrison, who insisted on taking my place on board, 
I was able to accept Mrs. Copeland's hospitality. The 
bountiful repast, which was spread in the dining-room, 
consisted entirely of island food, such as native pudding 
— quite a strange dainty to us all — pork, fowl, taro, 
boiled and roasted, bread-fruit, arrowroot, blanc-mange, 
bananas — both raw and baked — luscious oranges and 
the refreshing beverage of the young cocoanut called 
nisnangneveng on Aneityum. We admired the deft 
way in which Mrs. Copeland's native maids waited on 


us all. We were also very much amused by their novel 
method of going from one side of the table to the 
other : just by giving their short, grass skirts a " swish," 
and taking a short cut under the table, coming up with 
a final " swish " and flourish as they rose on the other 
side, their faces beaming. I don't know whether many 
ladies would care to introduce this style of waiting at 
their tables, though it has many advantages. I cannot 
quite remember whether the food was passed under too, 
or whether it was not shot over the heads of the guests, 
gracefully landing on the outstretched palm of the 
serving-maid, as she emerged from the depths of the 
" place below ". 

About a week after our arrival I left the Daysfring 
to take up my work on Aneityum, as agent for the cotton 
company which I have already mentioned. At first, I 
only arranged to take the post for six months ; before 
long, however, the company offered me the position 
permanently. Throughout my stay of four and a half 
years on the island I had the great advantage of living 
in Mr. Inglis's own house at Aname — an arrangement 
which made everything pleasant for me. At Anelcauhat, 
too, I received unbounded kindness from Mr. and Mrs. 
Geddie, and, during their absence in Canada, from the 
Copelands and M'Cullaghs. With Mrs. Geddie and 
Mrs. Copeland, who were Canadians, their homes and 
mine being in the same province, many topics of mutual 
interest could be discussed. Indeed, it would be hard 
to decide at which place, Aname or Anelcauhat, I felt 
more at home, such was the kindness and interest that 
all showed towards me. For two years Mr. and Mrs. 
Copeland were the missionaries of Anelcauhat, then Mr. 
and Mrs. M'Cullagh took charge until the return of Mr. 
and Mrs. Geddie from Canada. As most of my time was 


spent at Aname, Mr. Inglis's station, I can speak more 
fully of the daily work and life there. 

Everything was carried on in a methodical manner, 
and it was marvellous to see the amount of work that 
both Mr. and Mrs. Inglis managed to do in one day. 
Their dispositions were very different. Mrs. Inglis was 
quick of perception, ardent and impulsive, and spoke 
her mind with no uncertain sound, especially in cases 
of meanness or wrong-doing. She was a wonderful 
manager, and trained her native helpers well. No 
woman possessed a kinder heart or greater sympathy, 
and she was esteemed by every one for her sterling 
qualities. Mr. Inglis was calm and reflective, and had 
remarkable control over his feelings. Being very 
scholarly, he spent much of his time in his study, besides 
teaching the more advanced young men of the station 
four days in every week. He related a story well, and 
had the happy knack of making the most uninteresting 
subject full of interest to his listeners. During all the 
years I knew him I never once saw him ruffled in temper ; 
indeed, Mrs. Inglis and I used sometimes to think he 
was too gentle, making kind excuses for the natives, 
alleging indisposition and so on, when we knew it was 
downright laziness that was the matter with them. 

How cool and deliberate he was on the rare occasions 
that the mail-bag came ! Even in these days now when 
letters come six times during the year, most of us are 
more or less excited and anxious to hear the news, but 
then it was only once in a year that we had regular mails. 
Generally a boy brought the letters across from the 
harbour. Mr. Inglis would carry the bag into his study, 
untie the string and put it away carefully in a drawer, 
then very deliberately sort the letters, hand Mrs. Inglis 
hers and give me mine, while his own large budget was 
'.'aid aside to be perused carefully later on, I am afraid 


our haste must have been a mystery to him, for we lost 
no time in tearing off the envelopes and in trying to 
read all our letters at once. Mr. and Mrs. Inglis were 
very hospitable, and their home was often a haven of 
rest to their fellow-missionaries, worn out with the con- 
stant anxiety and nervous strain of living on remote 
and heathen islands. From the stations of Mr. Geddie 
and Mr. Inglis the younger missionaries were well sup- 
plied with Aneityumese teachers and helpers. And, 
though now the natives of Aneityum are few in number, 
and may, perhaps, have lost much of their early Christian 
spirit and missionary zeal, let their noble efforts of by- 
gone days never be forgotten. When all the other 
islanders were still ignorant and savage heathen, the 
men and women of Aneityum were ready at any time 
to leave their homes and to take their part in telling 
God's message of love to those sitting in darkness. 

The mission buildings at Aname were extensive, and 
a picture of neatness. Besides his own dwelling-house, 
Mr. Inglis had stores and schoolrooms and also houses 
for the boys and girls under training. The verandahs 
and floors of some of the rooms were of concrete ; these 
were covered with fine large mats of native workman- 
ship. The roofs of thatch had to be secured by storm- 
rigging ^ at the end of each year, so as to withstand 
the dangers of the hurricane season. The annual house- 
cleaning, which began in April, was a heavy task ; then, 
all this storm-rigging was removed, and often the house 
was re-thatched, and room after room had to be white- 
washed. At the present day very few, if any, of the 
mission-houses in the New Hebrides are covered with 
thatch, and lime is very little used, so that the heavy 
labour entailed by house-cleaning in the old time, has, 
to a great extent, disappeared. 

The young people under training were in charge of a 


native called Lazarus^ and his wife Esther, both good 
helpers for many years. After her husband's death in 
1873, Esther continued to serve faithfully until Mr. and 
Mrs. Inglis left for Scotland, four years later. Among 
other workers at Aname I may mention Nalevatimi and 
his wife, Theganua, and also Epetineto, who, in May 
1897, during the Mission Synod at Aneityum, was or- 
dained as the first native pastor in the New Hebrides. 

At that time the population of the island was about 
2,000 ; everything seemed bright, and the prospects of 
the Mission most hopeful. At the stations of the two 
missionaries a busy life was led, though, for all that, 
the natives seemed to have a large amount of idle 
moments ; for the young men and boys were to be seen 
pacing the shore in an easy way, poised spears in their 
hands, searching for fish, while at low-tide women and 
children were away out near the reef in their quest for 
shell-fish. Their careless, happy existence was quite 
different from anything I had seen in our busy home- 
land. Everything here seemed so strange to me — the 
gorgeous tropical plants, the graceful cocoanut palms, 
showing their feathery outlines against the background 
of the high Anumeij mountains, enveloped in soft mist, 
while the gentle swish of the waves lapping on the beach, 
and their louder roar and dash on the distant reef — a 
sound that could often lull one to sleep — with the soft 
rustle of the palm trees at night — all lent a peculiar 
fascination to the scene. The noise made by the mov- 
ing palms is often apt to be mistaken for light rain. 
Once, soon after our arrival, Mr. Gordon and I actually 
rose from our beds and dressed hurriedly in order to get 
some cases under shelter, only to find, when we opened 
our door, a lovely moonlight night and not a sign of rain. 

In their heathen state the men of Aneityum had been 
dressed like the other New Hebridean savages, if dress 


it was. The women,, however, wore, and do still wear, 
skirts made of the pandanus leaf. A great number of 
these are donned at one time, one over another, and as 
they are fairly short, just reaching to the knees, they 
give their wearers a queer, bunchy appearance. These 
skirts, with the addition of a short print jacket, formed 
a woman's week-day attire ; while on Sundays, and on all 
state occasions, a wonderful head-gear, in the form of 
a large barrel-shaped bonnet made of plaited -pandanus 
leaf, surmounted all. These bonnets were cut into 
shape and sewed by Esther. The hair on the women's 
heads being thick and woolly, the bonnets were usually 
worn on their shoulders, the strings being tied securely 
in front, and the Aneityumese belle thus equipped was, 
to herself and her admirers, a thing of beauty. The 
men, as Christians, were clad in shirts and short kilts or 
lava-lava, no covering being worn on their heads. 



The time of waiting the arrival of the L.M.S.'s John 
Williams seemed long. We expected that, soon after 
our reaching Aneityum in the Dayspring in June, 1864, 
the John Williams would appear there. We were be- 
£^inning to fear that something untoward had happened, 
when the schooner Spec came into the harbour and 
reported the total wreck of the Missionary Society's 
vessel off Niue or Savage Island, in the mid-Pacific. 
On the Dayspring s return from the Loyalty group, with 
Mr. Ella still on board, disappointed in his desire to 
settle on Uvea, it was decided that something must be 
done to help on the work of the missionaries in the 
other groups in these seas. For this purpose, the John 
Knox, the little schooner of twelve and a half tons, whicn 
had been in use for mission-work for the previous 
seven years, was repaired by Mr. Reid, one of the 
officers, and the sailors of the Dayspring. Mr. Cope- 
land and I overhauled a large quantity of goods which 
lay here, belonging to the London Missionary Society, 
and packed them in small cases. As many as possible 
of these were then stowed in the little vessel. Our 
missionaries, in consultation, had decided tc send the 
John Knox on this errand, as, they said, it would not 
make much difference if she were seized by the French 
or not About 200 natives gathered to help in the 
launching. Mr. Copeland stood on the shore, swinging 



his arms and urging them on with akaija, akaija, ' all to- 
gether,' and the response was quick and willing. The 
schooner left for the Loyalty group, under the command 
of Mr. Currie, who was able to carry out all his instruc- 
tions, and landed everything safely for the London 
Society's missionaries there. 

When the Dayspring got to Sydney, she needed re- 
pairs and stores; but, funds having fallen behind, this 
seemed impossible. Just at this time Mr. and Mrs. 
Paton, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Niven, of the 
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, arrived in 
the Colonies. Mr. Paton had gone to the home countries 
three years previously, in order to collect money ^ for 
the building of the Dayspring, and to plead for more 
missionaries. His efforts had been crowned with great 
success, but help was now needed again. As soon as 
he knew of the trouble, with his characteristic energy, he 
at once set to work to obtain the necessary funds. He 
was soon able to hand over to the Mission about ^^500, 
which enabled Captain Fraser to repair and provision 
the ship, pay the crew, and fit the Dayspring for her 
next cruise among the islands. Early in June, 1865, she 
arrived at Aneityum, having as passengers Mr. and Mrs. 
Paton and child, Mr. and Mrs. Niven, Mrs. Fraser, and 
also Mrs. Ella, who with her little boy was on her 
way to rejoin her husband at Uvea. After the annual 
meeting which was that year held at Aname, on Aneit- 
yum, Mr. and Mrs. Niven, who had resigned their con- 
nection with our Mission, returned to Sydney. Mr. and 
Mrs. Paton also left by the Dayspring. I believe it was 
during that year that Mr. Paton succeeded in getting a 
number of Sunday schools in Victoria to guarantee £'^ 
yearly for the support of native teachers on our islands 
— a splendid plan.^ Mr. Copeland, too, was on furlough 
in New Zealand, having left the islands in ill-health some 


time previously, so that during that year there were only 
four missionaries in the group. 

After I had been nearly two years on Aneityum, 
great preparations began for the return to it of Mr. and 
Mrs. Geddie. They had had a warm, an enthusiastic 
welcome from the Churches in Canada — those of the 
" Kirk " Maritime Provinces, as well as from his own 
branch — for the union of the Presbyterian Churches in 
Canada had not yet taken place. This visit of their 
first missionary, and one who had done successful 
work, was a more than ordinary event, and his earnest 
addresses and the simple story of his labours on Aneit- 
yum had a most thrilling effect on his hearers. Since she 
sent out her first missionary, our Canadian Church has 
been a living Church. Her growth has been marvellous, 
and as there has been an increase of spiritual grace, so 
there has been a steady increase of missionary zeal. 
Her Mission roll now contains about 280 names. Before 
his return, the degree of Doctor of Divinity had been 
conferred on Mr. Geddie by Montreal University. Just 
about this time three young men, Messrs. Cosh, Neilson 
and Macnair, offered themselves as missionaries for the 
New Hebrides. They awaited Mr. Geddie's arrival in 
Scotland from Canada, that they might proceed to the 
islands together, and so they all took passage in the 
Fearnought, a sailing ship, and arrived in Melbourne 
early in 1866. 

About the same date the new John Williams, which 
had replaced the vessel wrecked off Savage Island, 
reached Sydney from England with a number of mis- 
sionaries on board. Soon after the arrival of the Fear- 
nought, Mr. Neilson was married to Miss Geddie, who 
had accompanied her father and mother from Canada. 
This year marked an era in the Victorian Church, for 
Messrs. Paton and Cosh became their representatives 


in the Mission. Mr. and Mrs. Copeland having joined 
the other missionaries in Sydney, the two vessels pre- 
pared to leave. As there were so many to go to the 
New Hebrides, Dr. and Mrs. Geddie and Mr. and Mrs. 
Neilson agreed to take passage in the John Williams 
as far as Aneityum, the others leaving Sydney a week 
earlier in the Dayspring. I was at Anelcauhat with the 
M'Cullaghs when she reached Aname. Poor Mrs. 
M'Cullagh was very ill at the time. She was so eager 
to have everything in perfect readiness for Dr. and 
Mrs. Geddie's return that she worked beyond her 
strength, and now the excitement of the Dayspring s 
arrival and the prospect of seeing the John Williams 
in a few days completely prostrated her. However, she 
soon recovered, and with us all, natives included, was 
able to go on with the preparations. Meanwhile, the 
Dayspring had left for the northern islands. 

What excitement there was at the harbour when 
the John Willia^ns came in sight! We watched her 
anxiously as she headed up to the anchorage, but soon 
our excitement became dismay when the beautiful little 
ship crashed on the coral reef. Her forefoot was torn 
away and the water rushed in in torrents, so much so 
that her cargo was completely ruined. All hands set 
to work, crew and missionaries taking their turn at the 
pumps, and doing all in their power, ably helped by the 
boats of the Mission and of Underwood the trader. All 
our efforts, however, proved useless, and she gradually 
settled down by the stern. The Mission boat with its 
flag bearing the words " Welcome Home," then left the 
ship with Dr. and Mrs. Geddie, their youngest child, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Neilson. As the boat neared the beach, 
everything seemed to show the interest and pleasure 
in their return. The Union Jack floated from a flagstaff 
that I had specially rigged for the day on the hill at 


the back of the house ; the grounds, always beautiful, 
looked doubly so that day, and the lovely spot itself 
seemed to breathe a welcome. As the boat touched the 
shore Mr. and Mrs. Neilson stepped out, and, at a 
sign from Lathella, the chief, with a shout the men 
gathered near, lifted the boat clear out of the water, 
and carried it and its occupants up to the gate of the 
mission pj'emises. Lathella then led Mrs. Geddie up to 
the house. The path was lined with people eager to 
see them, and I noticed that both Dr. and Mrs. Geddie 
were deeply affected by the sincere and hearty welcome 
that had been g^ven to them. 

Of course, the accident to the John Williams cast 
somewhat of a shadow over our rejoicings. By this time 
all had landed except Captain Williams (in charge of the 
ship) and his wife, and also the Rev. James Chalmers,^ 
the well-known missionary of New Guinea, and his 
wife. Chalmers, with his head bandaged (it had been 
injured by the pump handle), and his sleeves rolled up, 
worked like a hero. The work went on day after day, 
perhaps as many as one hundred natives being constantly 
employed They were hearty and willing, and the way 
they helped was beyond all praise. 

M'Beth, a thrifty Scot, the apprentice boy on the John 
Williams, came to me one day with a rather troubled 

" Mr. Robertson," said he, rolling the " r " as only a 
true Scot can do, "will ye alloo me to put ma box in 
your store? If the auld John Williams is going to the 
bottom, I don't want to loose ma claes ; for, man, ye 
ken, things are terrible dear in the Colonies." And thus 
he secured his " claes " from harm. 

After a week of incessant work, the ship moved into 
deep water, and redoubled energy had then to be put 
forth in order to keep her afloat. 


It was then arranged that she should return to Sydney, 
accompanied by the Dayspring, under Captain Eraser's 
command, who would be ready to remove the passengers 
and crew in case of danger. A party of Aneityumese, 
twenty-two in all, went as pumpers, and, as I knew the 
language, the missionaries suggested to me that I should 
accompany them as interpreter. I had been suffering a 
good deal from fever, and looked forward with pleasure 
to the change in Sydney. Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers 
travelled in the John Williams, Mr. and Mrs. M'CuUagh 
taking passage in the Dayspring. It was rather an 
exciting experience for all, especially for us on the John 
Williams. Captain Eraser wrote out a code of signals 
to be used in case of the ships becoming separated. The 
passage was a long one — twenty-two days. At first we 
had good weather, but, as we got nearer the Australian 
coast, it became very squally and bitterly cold, with hail 
and thunder continuing for hours. We once lost sight 
of the Dayspring for twelve hours. By some mistake 
on the part of the second officer, three white lights on 
the John Williams had been so hung that Captain 
Eraser took them as the signal to " go about ". When 
we came on deck that evening about nine o'clock there 
was not a sign of the Dayspring. Mr. Turpie (now Cap- 
tain Turpie, who has been so long in command of the 
John Williams) called out, as he glanced at the three 
gleaming lights above : " What is the meaning of this .? 
where is the Dayspring?" As soon as possible the 
signal was changed, but it was hours before the roistake 
was known on the other ship. Captain Eraser, on notic- 
ing the first signal, at once went about but after keeping 
on that tack for some time, he began to suspect that 
some blunder had been made, and returned. All through 
the voyage there had been a friendly rivalry between the 
two ships, and, of course, as I was a " Dayspringite " on 


their deck, I got much chaff from the John Williams^ 
folks. " Look at the httle thing panting behind," Mr. 
Turpie would say, holding a tow rope at the stern of 
the John Williams ; "well done, little one!" When 
my ship hove in sight, tearing along under full canvas, 
after being so long missing, I tried to turn the tables on 
him, " True blue for ever ! " I shouted ; " the Dayspring 
has been to Sydney, and is coming back with our mails." 
Twelve out of the twenty-two Aneityumese became 
ill as we drew near the coast. Poor fellows! they 
worked well, but it was a great strain on all. Mr. 
Geddes, the second officer of the John Williams, was 
kindness itself to the men, and would do anything for 
them. Sometimes the ship made three feet of water 
in an hour. We were all glad to reach Sydney in safety 
at last. I don't think I ever in my hfe slept for such 
a long stretch at a time after getting ashore. I went 
to bed at ten o'clock one morning, and did not wake till 
late the evening of the next day! The Dayspring 
spent only two days in port, and then returned to 
Aneityum, taking the twenty-two native pumpers back 
in her. I waited for the repair of the John Williams, 
and spent several weeks in Sydney, enjoying the com- 
plete change. During the whole time I was the guest 
of the Rev. W. M'Intyre,* who was then minister of 
St. George's. Mr. and Mrs. M'Intyre made my stay 
very pleasant, and nothing could have exceeded their 
kindness. During that visit I had the pleasure of meet- 
ing Mrs. Buzacott, widow of the missionary of Raro- 
tonga. When the time for leaving Sydney was come, 
the fever had quite gone from me, and I felt fit for any 
work. The John Williams, well repaired and looking 
herself again, had a quick run to the islands. We left 
on a Thursday, and the following Thursday I handed 
Mr. Neilson the Sydney Morning Herald, dated just a 


week before. Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers and also Mr. and 
Mrs. M'Cullagh returned in her. The Dayspring ran 
up all her flags and fired a salute as we sailed into 
Anelcauhat Harbour. While we were in Sydney, the 
annual meeting of the missionaries on the islands had 
been held, at which Mr. Copeland had been settled on 
Futuna, Mr. Paton on Aniwa, Mr. Cosh on Pango of 
Efate, and Mr. Neilson had been appointed to Tanna. 
However, at that time the Tannese were unwilling to 
receive them ; so for some time Mr. Neilson took charge 
of the Erakor station on Efate, Mr. Morrison having 
left in failing health. Afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Neilson 
returned to Tanna and were settled at Port Resolution, 
where they did sixteen years of work. 

All the time that the John Williams was in Sydney, 
the shipwrecked missionaries of the London Missionary 
Society — Messrs. Davis, Watson and Saville — had been 
on Aneityum. They now left for their respective sta- 
tions in their own ship. But the John Williams seemed 
doomed. During a calm, she went ashore on the same 
reef off Savage Island where her predecessor had come 
to grief, and became a total wreck. The passengers 
and crew reached the shore in boats. No lives were lost, 
but we heard that two or three little children died some 
time afterwards from the effects of exposure at the time 
of the disaster. The third Joht Williams, a barque, 
which replaced the wrecked vessel, was the same that 
did the work of the Society for so many years, until she 
was superseded by the present auxiliary steamer^ which 
bears the same name. 

On the 1st of February, 1868, I had sunstroke, and 
suffered very much from its effects. About May, the 
Dayspring arrived at Aneityum, having as passengers 
Mr. and Mrs. Sim, from Ballarat, Victoria, who were 
taking the voyage for the benefit of their health, and 


were deeply interested in mission-work. Their visit 
to the islands being now ended, it was arranged that 
the Dayspring should take them to Noumea, whence 
they could proceed to Sydney by steamer. I resolved to 
take advantage of this trip, and to go to Noumea in 
order to consult a doctor. The Dayspring called at 
Aniwa to pick up Mrs. Paton, who was taking her child 
— also for medical treatment — to New Caledonia. We 
called, too, at Erromanga, and saw Mr. and Mrs. Mac- 
nair and Mr. Gordon. Only a very short stay was made 
there. Yomot, the Christian native already mentioned, 
engaged to go with us as boat's crew. Mr. Gordon 
objected, but Yomot said he wished to get clothes; so 
the Captain agreed to take him. Very soon after our 
arrival in Noumea, Mr. and Mrs. Sim left for Sydney. 
Unfortunately, they could only get passages in a miser- 
able little steamer that happened to be leaving just then, 
but they could not wait, and were glad to get even that 
chance of reaching the Colonies. The French doctor 
was consulted by Mrs. Paton and also by myself, and 
it was not long before we left on our return. Certainly 
I benefited by the treatment, and, though still weak, 
felt decidedly better. We again called at Erromanga, 
and at Tanna, Futuna and Aniwa, where we landed 
Mrs. Paton and her child. 

During the rainy season of 1867, Mr. Gordon had 
paid a visit to New South Wales. His addresses there 
were much appreciated, and had stirred the interest of 
many. Before going away again, he was asked to be the 
missionary of the Presbyterian Church in that Colony, 
and agreed to the request. He had a warm place in the 
hearts of the people, especially the young people, of New 
South Wales, and his memory is still cherished by those 
who knew him then. He returned from Sydney to 
Aneityum in a whahng vessel called the Coquette. The 


timber and materials for his house were on board, and 
were landed at Aneityum, while Mr. Gordon himself 
accepted the captain's kind offer to carry him on to 

In the early part of 1868, there came from Canada a 
letter which changed my whole life. At Anelcauhat 
one evenmg, after prayers, Dr. Geddie asked me to 
stay with him for a few minutes before retiring to my 
room. He then read a letter, addressed to him, from 
the Convener of the Foreign Mission Committee of the 
Church of the Maritime Provinces, Canada, asking that 
I should be their first missionary ; for Dr. Geddie, the 
earliest missionary, had been sent by the United Presby- 
terian Church in Canada. For some time the " Kirk " * 
had been pleading for representatives in the foreign 
field. There had been no response. The Rev. Andrew 
Herdman, M.A., brother of the late Dr. Herdman, Con- 
vener of the Foreign Mission Committee of the Estab- 
lished Church in Scotland at that time, suggested my 
name, having known me well as one connected with his 
church years before. The letter asked Dr. Geddie to 
put the matter before me, and, if I should decide to 
take up this work, to consult with his brother mission- 
aries as to the advisability of my remaining in the 
islands and preparing for my future work under the 
direction of one or more of the missionaries. The 
matter of first moment was, of course, my acceptance 
of the offer. The letter came as a complete surprise, 
and, at first, I must confess the contents were almost a 
shock to me. I could not give an answer there and 
then, and asked Dr. Geddie, who spoke most kindly and 
sympathetically, for time to consider the question. It 
was not till after long and prayerful consideration that 
I decided, God helping me, to consecrate my life to this 
great work. I liave never regretted the step, for surely 


God whose hand has led me, has been my Help and 
Guide, and His blessings on us and our work have been 

The suggestion that I should remain in the islands, 
and prepare there for my work, I never for one moment 
entertained. I made up my mind that I would enter 
the mission-field only as a fully accredited minister, not 
as a lay preacher. At the meeting held at Aneityum 
that year the subject was carefully discussed ; Mr. Cope- 
land was chairman. After some time I was sent for, 
and my own opinion heard. All the missionaries, with 
the exception of two, were strongly in favour of my 
going home to study. Dr. Geddie and Mr. Gordon 
thought I should remain in the islands and at once com- 
mence mission-work. In substance, the minute passed 
on the question was : " The application of the committee 
having been laid before Mr. Robertson and his opinion 
having been heard, this meeting does not see its way 
clear to adopt the course indicated, but would recom- 
mend that he should return to Nova Scotia, that the 
Church there should give him every facility to prosecute 
his studies, that he should be ordained, and this Mission 
will cordially welcome him as a fellow-labourer in these 
seas ". It was then arranged that I should leave the 
New Hebrides towards the end of that year, 1868. 

For over a year Mr. Inglis, Dr. Geddie and I had 
all been very much disappointed with the prospects 
of the cotton company for which I was agent. The 
natives had not taken to the work as heartily as we 
expected. The company, in the first instance, had been 
formed on the recommendation of Mr. Inglis, so that, 
to a certain extent, he felt responsible for the issue. 
With Dr. Geddie, he had the power of attorney over me, 
and, long before my decision to leave Aneityum, had 


recommended the winding-up of the company's affairs. 
My movements had no connection with this resolve of 
his, although, when the application came for me from 
the Canadian Church and I accepted it;, Mr. Inglis and 
Dr. Geddie both decided to carry it into effect. The 
cotton machinery was sold, and the Directors informed 
of the reasons for abandoning the venture. I found out 
afterwards that they were rather disappointed ; they 
did not consider it a failure, as their primary reason 
was not so much to make money, as to encourage the 
natives in commerce and thus indirectly to further the 
interests of the Mission. However, they very rightly 
agreed that those who were acting for them and on the 
spot were the best judges in the matter. The natives, 
when they heard that I was leaving, came to the mis- 
sionaries and to myself, begging me to remain, and 
promising that they would do their best to prosper the 
growing of cotton ; but our minds were made up. We 
told them that there was no prospect of any one coming 
to take my place. Though willing to help, they had far 
too little energy to make the undertaking a success. 
During my entire stay on Aneityum, I must say that the 
people had been particularly kind to me, and were 
always ready to carry out my wishes. I became very 
much attached to them all, and often look back on the 
pleasant years spent on their island now long, long ago. 
And when the time came for me to leave them, we 
parted the very best of friends. 

In my dealings with them as the company's agent, 
when I first gave money to the natives, some of their 
blunders were very amusing. They said they did not 
want money, it was " no good " ; they would much 
prefer calico and print. It was a long time before they 
understood that money would buy these things for them. 
When they did at last realise that, money became a 


wonderful thing, and they had the most extraordinary 
notions of its value, expecting to buy a shawl for one 
or two coppers. I remember a man coming to me once 
very confidentially, and showing me some great treasure 
he had. Layer after layer of banana leaf was removed, 
strips of grass and leaves thrown away, and at last there 
lay revealed one penny. In return for this he asked 
" one red blanket, one packet of tea, one packet of 
sugar, one rat-trap ". I asked him what else he would 
like with the balance of the money. " Ah, Mr. Robertson ! 
I will just leave that to yourself," he replied ; " give me 
what you think best, for there is nothing on all this earth 
that is not good." 

Fortunately for me I had picked up the Aneityumese 
language very quickly, although like others, I had 
made most ludicrous mistakes at first. Mrs. Cope- 
land very kindly gave me every help, and I learnt by 
heart a number of useful expressions. But at first, after 
I had been on shore about three days, I was sure that I 
knew the language very well indeed. My shoes were 
wet, and needed drying ; so I took them into the kitchen, 
and handed them to the cook telling him to " burn " 
them well. He obeyed me unquestioningly ; for one 
shoe was so well burnt that there was nothing of it left. 
Mrs. Copeland rescued the other one, but what was one 
shoe without its mate. I suppose I deserved to have 
my self-assurance humbled; certainly this taught me 
a lesson. We notice that, whenever we make blunders, 
our natives are extremely polite and will rarely smile 
at what must be most absurd renderings of their lan- 
guage. Indeed, they are far more careful of our feel- 
ings in this respect than we white people of theirs. 
As a rule, we do not hesitate to laugh heartily at a 
blunder made in English by a foreigner, but our natives 
do not do so. If a beginner in the language is speaking, 


they generally understand what is meant and will 
politely assent to what is said. Sometimes a native 
with a strong vein of fun in his nature will give way, 
and burst into a peal of laughter at an absurd mistake, 
and I have no doubt they have many a humorous 
moment over these mistakes behind our backs. The 
change of one letter in a word will make a great differ- 
ence. Mrs. M'Cullagh one day told, or thought she told, 
her cook to whitewash the kitchen and blacken the stove. 
After some time he came, all smiles, asking us to go 
and inspect his work. At the door, he stood aside, with 
a look of conscious pride, that we might enter first. 
What a sight met our eyes! He had whitewashed 
the kitchen, whitewashed the stove, the stove-pipe, and 
every pot and pan in the place. Mr. M'Cullagh was 
indignant at such stupidity, and the poor cook was quite 
crestfallen, while Mrs. M'Cullagh and I stood by con- 
vulsed with laughter. 

When I was first on my way to the islands, in 1864, 
ana while yet in Sydney, Mr. Gordon suggested to Mrs. 
M'Intyre, in whose house we were staying, that it would 
be a nice thing to present a cart, plough and harrows to 
Lathella, the High Chief of Aneityum, who was also 
with us. Mr. Gordon had heard that Lathella already 
possessed cattle.^ Mrs. MTntyre took up the idea with 
interest, and soon after, with other friends, made La- 
thella a gift of several implements for ploughing. Mr. 
Gordon said he would teach him to plough. Soon after 
we reached Aneityum, Lathella got his first lesson. 
These wild bulls of his had never been yoked before, 
and it took about 150 natives to catch them. The 
first lesson was a fair success ; for, of course, Mr. Gordon 
did not attempt to do more than yoke the animals. One 
day, after he had left for Erromanga, Lathella resolved 


to do some ploughing. I suggested to him to yoke the 
bulls to a log first, and gradually get them used to a 
plough ; but no ; he insisted that they should begin as 
they were to end, and it was by much persuasion only 
that he was led to try the log for a start even. I got him 
to make a V-shaped enclosure, and after some time the 
people managed to get one bull inside, and yoked him, 
fastening the yoke to a tree. Women and boys from 
their vantage ground of cocoanut trees yelled directions 
to everybody. By the time we yoked the second bull, 
the first had torn and trampled the ground for yards 
around. We yoked them to a log, and off they started 
up and down near the shore at a terrific pace, until at 
last the poor brutes fairly panted. Lathella was charmed 
with the way they were being broken in, and said he 
would put them in the plough as soon as possible. The 
next place he turned them to was the food plantation. 
But the whole settlement was traversed before reaching 
the swamp where the food plants grew, though we aimed 
at it from the first. As long as we could keep the bulls 
out of the church and mission-house, we did not care so 
much about the circuitous route they took. I told La- 
thella that he would want clear ground with no trees 
for training them. He and the other natives seemed to 
think that the more trees there were the better. Waiheit, 
one of the most courageous of all, held a great nagaijai — 
a pole for canoeing in shallow water — to protect himself, 
and every one carried a stick or weapon of some kind. 
By the time we left the shore, the women were thor- 
oughly frightened, and flew to their own houses for 
shelter. Just beyond the swamp the log snapped across 
two trees, and, after tearing round some time, knocking 
themselves against trees, Lathella's eyes almost standing 
out of his head, as he called aloud, Atapenis! atapenis! 
'shut them off! shut them off!' the animals became 


thoroughly tired. Only the stronger and more courageous 
of the men were with us ; the others had disappeared by 
this time. I told Lathella it was madness to put them in 
the plough, but he was determined to try it. They were 
standing panting, and he said the/ had done splendidly 
and were well trained indeed. 

So we put them in the plough, Waiheit, with all the 
men, young and old, standing near, ready to help. I told 
Lathella what depth he was to keep, and he got hold of 
the plough handles. With a roar the bulls made a 
plunge forward, and for about twenty feet the plough 
went right, until it struck what must have been a great 
stone or a root. The next thing I saw was Lathella 
shooting up into the air, high above our heads! The 
bulls turned to the river, while all the young fry — the 
hope of Aneityum — flew to the cocoanut trees, only 
Waiheit and two or three others, among them Nomopen 
and Naube, remaining. The bulls went up to their necks 
in the water, dragging the plough after them. By this 
time both handles were broken. Lathella, who had cer- 
tainly no lack of pluck, and who was on his feet again, 
yelled to his men, " Spring on to them, spring on to 
them, lads ! " while I lay on the ground, helpless with 
laughter. When the animals rushed out of the water 
again with nothing but the head of the plough behind 
them, I was afraid they would kill themselves and the 
men too. We tried to head them off, but it was of no 
use. They rushed, fairly mad, first towards the cow- 
byre and then to the sea. The head of the plough, 
trailing after them, would sometimes bound right up in 
the air, then come with a thud to the ground again, and 
often the poor beasts were struck by it. They several 
times charged Waiheit, but he was ready and belaboured 
them with his nagaijai. Lathella had to give in ; but 
the younger men still followed the " bullock team " right 


down to the shores. As we passed the mission premises, 
we saw the other cattle standing on the side of the 
hill, their tails raised in astonishment ! The natives, 
followed closely by the roaring bulls, made for the shore, 
and the animals rushed after Naube right into the water. 
That seemed to quieten them at last, and we managed to 
lasso them and take the yoke off. I advised Lathella, 
if he cared for his own and the people's lives, to sell them. 
Not he. One day he took them up to the hill Nightima 
and yoked them to the cart. I told him he would kill 
himself, but he was determined to train the animals. 
He got into the cart when all was ready, a long wooden 
spear in his hand to guide them with, and a number of 
people stood on either side of the road, and some in front 
to keep them from going too far. At the first snort 
and plunge, all in front took to flight and the bulls raced 
down the hill. When they were half-way down, La- 
thella got frightened and jumped out. About fifty yards 
ahead, a wheel went over the side of the road, one of 
the animals went right off the edge of the path, and it 
was not till both had freed themselves and the cart was 
smashed to matchwood that peace reigned again. That 
adventure put an end to Lathella's ploughing operations, 
and right glad we all were when he consented to sell his 

I spoke about them to the Captain and Paymaster of 
the first ship-of-war that came, and received over twenty 
pounds for the two bulls and one cow. When I handed 
Lathella the money, he was overjoyed and exclaimed : 
Nauhaurineig ak etwak, Misi Robertson ! ' thank you, 
thank you, my brother ! ' The money now proved far 
more useful to him than his cattle^ for with it he bought 
windows, flooring-boards, doors, for his new house, and 
several good strong boxes. The cattle had done a lot 
of mischief before their ploughing escapades, and the 


people, whose food-plantations they had often invaded, 
were considerably relieved in mind by their departure. 

There is another amusing bit of island-experience 
which is worth recording. There was an old horse at An- 
eityum in those days. He looked to me as if he belonged 
to the era of the ancients. Some of the younger natives 
did report that Captain Towns had bought him from Cap- 
tain Paddon, and Captain Dawson said that he came from 
Erromanga, knew the price of sandal-wood as well as 
any trader, and could always tell when his master was 
driving a shrewd bargain. 

However, an old man assured me that that was a 
mistake. " You have been taken in about that horse," 
he said ; " he was landed here by Captain Cook, and has 
been living on the island ever since." 

" You don't say so .-• " I exclaimed. 

"Yes, it is the very truth, and he looks as fresh as 
ever he did." Some time afterwards I was pained to hear 
that this account was also a mis-statement. The man 
who put me right scouted the bare idea of " Bob " having 
been brought by the Resolution, and said he had been 
on the island before Cook was ever heard of. At any 
rate, it is certain, from the state of his wind apparatus, 
that " Bob " was no youngster. The method of catching 
him was at once novel and simple. All one had to do 
was to chase him right round the mission grounds till 
his breath gave out, and then it was easy enough to 
saddle him. He would never go further than five miles 
at a time. We used to start in grand style on our way 
to Anumej, a crowd of boys following, eager to race us. 
The first time, I gave them a hundred yards or so of a 
start ; the next time, and ever afterwards, " Bob " had the 
start. "Now," one of the boys would say, "one, two, 
three, four, five ; off ! " for they don't stop at " three " — 


four and five are generally added. Off we start, the 
cavalry charges ahead, and with conscious pride we 
thunder along the hard sandy shore. It seems as if we 
are going to win, when " Bob " stops most suddenly, and 
I have to dismount till his breath comes back. 

One night I was returning on his back from Anumej 
to the mission-station. When near home we were over- 
taken by darkness, and, before I knew where I was, 
" Bob " was floundering in quick-sands and mud. Every 
struggle made matters worse ; so slipping myself off the 
saddle I left him, or rather he left me, for when I was 
still scrambling in the mud, he was swimming and nearly 
across the river. I had to go a long distance up the 
river bank before I could cross, literally feeling my way. 
But I got home before " Bob " — his breath had given out 
again. Indeed, I believe this inability to keep his breath 
was the death of him at last. Should I meet a native 
when in " Bob's " company, we were always greeted with 
Ek-aihuec-vai-caurau ! ' love to you two ! ' 

I remember being very much surprised one day, and 
amused, soon after my arrival on Aneityum, to hear a 
native speak of meeting a child — a mere infant — who, 
he said, was going to his cultivation-ground to plant 
taro."^ The child certainly was going — on his mother's 
back — ^but she, as a mere item, was ignored. There is 
this same custom on Erromanga and, I beheve, on all 
the other islands. Some one will come to us with a 
message : " Nerimpau is waiting to see you ; he wants 
some tea and sugar ". Now Nerimpau is only a few 
months old, but he is a natememik, ' a young chief,' and, 
of course, of ten times more importance than his mother. 
Not that she would be unkindly treated ; the food, or a 
part of it, is no doubt for herself, but in such cases, out 


of etiquette, she must mention, not her own name but 
that of the httle " lord of creation " whom she carries. 

Before leaving Aneityum finally, I took a trip in the 
Dayspring as far as Pango, on Efate, and back. We 
had some timber for Rev. James Gordon's house on 
board, and landed it on Erromanga at Portinia Bay, 
where he had been settled earlier in the year. Mr. 
Gordon came to meet us at the boat, gave us a cordial 
welcome, and took us back to his house, which was 
already built. We were carried across the river by 
Erromangan natives, and, on reaching his house, we soon 
had tea prepared for us. He seemed to be very com- 
fortable at his new station, and was having encourage- 
ment in his work. We climbed a ladder to his own 
room, which was above his sitting and dining-rooms, 
and he told me that he always pulled this ladder up at 
night before he slept so that he might be more secure 
from attack. Nothing could have exceeded his kindness 
to me that day, and it is very pleasing to me to remember 
and record it ; for it was the last time I ever saw him. 
Though he disapproved of my returning to Nova Scotia 
for preparation and study, yet as soon as I had decided 
on doing so he gave me every help and encouragement. 
Before we said good-bye, he handed me a sealed letter, 
which I was to read on board. In it his kind words of 
advice and good wishes closed with Psalm cxxi. 3-8 .- — 

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved : He that keepeth thee will not 

Behold ! He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 
The Lord is thy keeper ; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. 
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil ; He shall preserve thy soul. 
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time 

forth, and even for ever more. 

1 left Aneityum towards the end of December, Mr. 


and Mrs. Inglis also travelling by the Dayspring to New- 
Zealand. It had been agreed that, instead of going to 
Melbourne, the vessel should^ that year, visit New Zea- 
land, in order that her supporters there might see her, 
and that through Mr. Inglis they might have an oppor- 
tunity of hearing of the work of the mission and its 
needs. We arrived in Dunedin on the first days of Jan- 
uary, 1869, and, after a pleasant six weeks' visit to the 
late Rev. George Sutherland, afterwards Dr. Sutherland, 
of St. George's Presbyterian Church, Sydney, I took 
passage for London in the barque Agate, Captain Brown. 
The Agate was laden with wool, the only other pas- 
senger being Mr. Smythe, a young lawyer. Fortunately 
for me the captain had married a Nova-Scotian girl, and 
for her sake, I suppose, showed another Nova-Scotian 
every kindness. I arrived in Canada in May. In the 
train going from Windsor to Halifax I noticed the Rev. 
G. M. Grant, of Halifax, afterwards Principal Grant, of 
Kingston. I introduced myself to him, and he gave me a 
most hearty welcome, inviting me to stay with him at 
the manse. The first Sunday after arrival, I addressed 
his Sunday school, and took service the same evening 
at the Tower Road, about three miles from Halifax — 
my first experience of speaking in public. At the next 
Synod of our Church, which was held at Chatham, New 
Brunswick, and which I also addressed, I was instructed 
to attend the Theological Hall and study medicine at 
Dalhousie College, and was put under the supervision 
of the Foreign Mission Committee. During the 
summer my time was occupied in visiting the congrega- 
tions of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, both of the 
United Presbyterian and the " Kirk " ^ Churches, and in 
this way, while giving information about our Mission, 
I became acquainted with the ministers and people of 
both Churches. After the letter in reference to me had 


been sent to Dr. Geddie, but before I arrived in Canada, 
the Rev. John Goodwill, of Scotsburn, Pictou, had offered 
to go to the New Hebrides as the representative of the 
"Kirk" branch of the Presbyterian Church, so that 
though I was called to be their first missionary, Mr. 
Goodwill was actually the first. At the same Synod 
that designated him to his field, I was accepted, and 
ordered to proceed with my studies and to follow him 
to the Mission-field as soon as I should be licensed and 



The Rev. James D. Gordon was not settled on Erro- 
manga till August of 1864. A voyage was first taken 
in the Dayspring through the Loyalty Islands and then 
the southern islands of the New Hebrides group. Mr. 
and Mrs. Ella were to take up work on Uvea, but great 
was their disappointment on reaching the island to find 
that the French authorities would not allow them to land. 
They returned to Aneityum, spending the months of 
their enforced banishment from Uvea at Lolanapjis near 
Aname. It was a great trial to them both. Mr. Ella 
could not be idle, and during his stay there he printed 
the whole of Luke's Gospel, a primer and a catechism 
in Erromangan, and also a hymn-book in Efatese. In 
many other ways he rendered great help to the mission- 
aries in this group. As we were near, I saw a good deal 
of Mr. and Mrs. Ella and their family, and I often 
think of the pleasant evenings spent in the little old 
lime-built cottage at Lolanapjis and the kind welcome 
that our friends in it were ever so ready to give. When 
Mr. Ella was at last allowed to proceed to Uvea, we 
rejoiced for his sake, but the loss was ours. Mrs. Ella 
had first to return to Sydney with her children, who were 
to be sent from there to school in England. She fainted 
while sitting on the Dayspring s deck one day at the 
very thought of parting with them. In those days, the 
separation was often for many years, and letters could 



only be received very rarely. It was indeed a bitter 
trial, but it was borne by her, and is still borne by others, 
with the help that can only be had from Him whose 
solicitude for His people has been likened to the 
greatest of all earthly affections, the love of a mother. 

It was on the i6th of July, 1864, that the Dayspring, 
with Mr. Gordon and others on board, reached Dillon's 
Bay. Mr. Inglis wrote thus : " On the Monday after- 
noon we sailed from Efate to Erromanga. We encoun- 
tered very heavy winds, in consequence of which we 
did not reach Erromanga till Friday; we were then 
becalmed, and did not come to anchor till Saturday. 
We had the satisfaction to find the Mission in a very 
encouraging condition. Our Aneityum teacher, Nehiei- 
man, and his wife were both well and in excellent spirits. 
He had had no rest in going from place to place to assist 
the natives in building schoolhouses. He has been 
there little more than a year, and four schoolhouses have 
been built during that time. A number of elementary 
books, printed there by Mr. Gordon, but after his death 
brought to Aneityum, had been lately sent to them and 
received with much joy. 

" On Sabbath we went ashore to the native service. 
The place of worship was full, and a number sat outside ; 
about 150 were present. One of the natives sang and 
prayed. Mr. Gordon, who has been studying the lan- 
guage very diligently, read a chapter of his brother's 
translation of Luke. I addressed them in the Aneit- 
yumese language, Nehieiman interpreting, after which 
he prayed. Mr. Gordon then addressed them shortly in 
their own tongue, and I pronounced the benediction in 
English. After this we had the usual services on board. 

" On Monday we went ashore again to visit the two 
spots where the Rev. George N. Gordon and Mrs. 
Gordon were killed. We passed their grave, which we 


had visited on Saturday. The grave is kept very neatly 
fenced around by the Christian natives. We ascended 
the mountain and passed the place where Mr. Gordon 
was working when the native came to him and got him 
to accompany him on the way to his own house, which 
stood about half a mile higher up on the edge of the 
table-land. The site of the house is estimated to be 
about i,ooo ft. above the level of the sea. . . . The house 
is all removed, and the foundation is covered with bushes 
and grass. The natives have planted a bush on the spot 
where Mrs. Gordon was killed. Captain Eraser took 
pictures of both these places, and also of some other 
objects of interest connected with the history of the 
Mission. We saw some of the spots, still of a reddish- 
brown colour, where Mr. Gordon's blood had dyed the 
rocks. The rains and the torrents of three years have 
not yet washed it out. Nothing, perhaps, is so difficult 
to wash out as blood. . . . 

" From the place where Mr. Gordon's house stood 
there is a splendid view. A beautiful valley opens up 
to the eastward, which fs seen to great advantage from 
this point ; the river winds gently along at the bottom ; 
here, reflecting the sunbeams from its glassy pools ; 
there, its silvery streams gliding softly over polished 
pebbles ; native cottages are seen peeping out amid the 
dense, deep green foliage that covers the narrow plains, 
and reaches from the water's edge to the margin of the 
table-land, which again spreads onwards to a native 
grass-flat, and is intersected with ravines running in 
every direction. 

" On returning to the shore, we found that the Chris- 
tian natives had brought a small present of food for the 
ship. We had another meeting with them in the school- 
house. They were greatly pleased to think that Mr. 
Gordon was likely to come and live with them; but 


they were distinct in saying that he must not go up 
the mountain where his brother had Hved. A number 
of the heathen were also assembled ; among others was 
the leader of the party who murdered Mr. and Mrs. 
Gordon. He is an impudent, bad-looking fellow ; if he 
had had any feeling of shame at all he would have kept 
away. Mr. Ella, however, took him in hand, and 
through Mana, who understands Samoan, gave him a 
very solemn talking-to on the sinfulness of his conduct, 
such as he had never heard since his hands were dyed 
with martyrs' blood. Mana, we were very sorry to see, 
was in very poor health. We gave instructions for the 
building of a house for a missionary on the site of Mr. 
Gordon's first house. We felt satisfied that, at present, 
no danger is to be apprehended in settling a missionary. 
... I feel certain that the prospects of the Mission were 
never so encouraging as at present. Others fear no 
danger ; why should missionaries ? Mr. Henry, the pro- 
prietor of the sandal-wood establishment at Dillon's Bay, 
had left his wife, with six children, the youngest only 
three months old, and gone to Sydney with the pros- 
pect of being absent for three or four months. Mrs. 
Henry evinced no anxiety about her situation, al- 
though she had only two white men living on the 
establishment. Moreover, I always considered Erro- 
manga as a more healthy island than Aneityum. Mr. 
Henry and his family lived several years on Aneityum. 
I found, however, that both Mrs. Henry and the children 
looked much more healthy and robust than ever I had 
seen them on Aneityum. Mrs. Henry was very 
kind to all on board, and gave a donation of two pounds 
to the funds of the ship. The precious seed that has 
been sown in tears and watered with blood is beginning 
to spring up; the prayers of God's people are being 


heard ; and, doubtless, the harvest will be great and 
the final result glorious." 

In a postscript to this letter, dated nth August, Mr. 
Inglis said : " I may just add that on Wednesday, 
the 3rd inst., the Dayspring sailed from Aneityum, 
visited Erromanga, Efate and Tanna, and returned to 
this island on the 9th, having had remarkably favourable 
winds both going and returning. Mr. Gordon received a 
most cordial welcome from the Christian natives of 

Mr. Copeland, who was present at Mr. Gordon's settle- 
ment, wrote that " he soon had his hands full of work ". 
There was his house to be built ; when it was completed, 
one end was used for a school and the other for his 
own dwelling-house. He had previously spent so much 
time in a careful study of the language that " from the 
very day of his settlement he was able to do something 
at teaching, and preaching, and superintending the 
work ". He had one Aneityumese teacher to help him, 
and from the first he conducted an afternoon school 
for young men who had already been under training. 
Mr. Copeland, in April, 1865, wrote: "Mr. Gordon 
generally conducts the religious services on Sabbaths 
at Dillon's Bay, where between one hundred and two 
hundred attend. Natives are appointed to the out- 
stations, three or four in number. Over two hundred 
are professedly Christian on Erromanga, and a few have 
been baptised. The work here has its dark and its 
bright aspects. The heathen natives are not only cruel, 
but treacherous. Still we must rejoice to see the field 
again occupied by a missionary amid circumstances, on 
the whole, encouraging. . . . Let us hope that the last 
martyrs of Erromanga have fallen, and that the greatest 
obstacles have already been overcome." 

In 1867, the Rev. James Macnair and Mrs. Macnair, 


from Scotland, but supported by the Nova-Scotian 
Church, joined Mr. Gordon on Erromanga. Not long 
after their arrival, Mr. Gordon gave up his station at 
Dillon's Bay to Mr. Macnair, and opened up a new one 
on the north-east of the island at Potnuma or Portinia 
Bay. It v^^as while he was still alone at Dillon's Bay 
that I paid my first visit to Erromanga, as narrated in 
the end of last chapter. We anchored in the bay about 
ten o'clock on a Sunday morning, and not long after- 
wards Mr. Gordon came off in his whale-boat. Captain 
Eraser persuaded him to stay on board to dinner. 
Afterwards I went on shore with Mr. Gordon, and to 
the afternoon service. The church was a little distance 
up the valley, and that day it was well filled. I can 
remember the very tune — " Coronation " — that they 
sang to one of the hymns. My first impression of both 
place and people was disappointing. I thought to my- 
self, Dillon's Bay is certainly very pretty, but very, very 
gloomy, and the people are as black, as ugly and as dirty 
as they can be. Some of them were naked and painted, 
and nearly all carried bow and arrows. I stayed on 
shore that night with Mr. Gordon. He sat up writing 
the whole night, and, when I woke in the morning after 
a good sleep, I found my host busy making porridge 
for our breakfast. As a rule, he had fairly good native 
helpers, though they could not be depended on for much 
help ; at that time he seemed to have almost no help. 
He managed wonderfully well, but must have often 
found it hard, as he did on this morning, when he con- 
fessed to me that " there is nothing like petticoats in a 
house to make things comfortable ". 

Our breakfast being over, I suggested visiting Mount 
Gordon. He objected, thinking it hardly safe, but 
seeing I was determined to go, sent Netai, a native, 
with me. An Aneityumese teacher followed us ; so I 


had a good escort. Returning from the deeply interest- 
ing spot, I found poor Gordon down with fever. It 
seemed hard to leave him like that, but the Daysfring 
was to sail in the evening. However, he struggled up 
to say good-bye to us, and was wonderfully cheerful. 
He was a brave man^ and the more I knew of him the 
more I loved him. 

Though Mr. and Mrs. Macnair arrived at Aneityum 
in August, 1866, and were appointed to Erromanga soon 
afterwards, it was some time before they could proceed 
to their future home. The John Willianis having to 
return to Sydney, disabled, it was arranged that the 
Daysfring should accompany her in case of danger 
(see chap. vi.). So that the Macnairs and other mission- 
aries were obliged to wait at Aneityum for her return. 
Before the Daysfring appeared, so eager were they to 
begin work, that they took passage in a small trading 
vessel, and thus reached Erromanga. 

Their first year on the island was a trying one ; both 
of them suffered severely from fever and ague, and so 
the next rainy season was spent on Aneityum. The 
rest there and change improved their health, and they 
left on their return to Erromanga on the ist of June, 
1867. It was in this year that a fearful epidemic, re- 
sembling diphtheria, broke out on Erromanga and other 
islands, and Mr. and Mrs. Macnair and Mr. Gordon 
had much to try their faith in those dark days. The 
Synod was to meet at Aneityum in August, but Mr. 
Macnair thought that, in consequence of the trouble on 
the island, he and his wife should remain on Erromanga, 
while Mr. Gordon would attend the meeting. During 
his absence of four weeks the disease raged furiously, 
and Mr. Macnair wrote of Dillon's Bay, "This has 
been literally the valley of the shadow of death". "The 
sacred men," ^ he said, " have no scruples in asserting, and 


the people seem to have as httle in beheving, and acting 
on the common behef, that Christianity is very much 
the cause of their troubles and calamities." By the 
time that the Dayspring returned, the disease had died 
down somewhat, but later on, spread to every corner of 
the island, and all through that dreary time the Mac- 
nairs and Gordon did their utmost to fight against it. 
Many died before it at last exhausted itself. 

In November of the same year Mr. Macnair wrote : 
" The path of duty seems now very plain. Mr. Gordon 
has resolved to go to Sydney this rainy season, and I 
have resolved to remain here. . . . The Dayspring made 
her appearance on the 15th, and in a few hours we were 
off in order to visit Cook's Bay. Next morning we came 
to anchor, probably near the very spot where Captain 
Cook anchored nearly a hundred years ago. . . . We were 
soon ashore at a village opposite the anchorage ; and 
as we were able to speak to the people they very soon 
became friends. A messenger was despatched to Cook's 
Bay, which is on the other side of Traitor's Head, to 
see how matters stood there, and to bring a chief or 
two to the vessel in order to accompany me to their 
place on Monday. We then made off to leeward five 
miles or so, in order to see the chief of the district. 
We landed at a place called Unova, near Potnuma Bay." 
Here Mr. Macnair met Lifu, the high chief of the dis- 
trict, who, he said, " being a high ^ chief, would at first 
speak to me only through a spokesman ". The letter 
goes on thus : " We came to his place beside a little river 
and a fine boat harbour. Mrs. Macnair wished to see 
his lady, but we were told he had many; however, he 
kindly consented to introduce us to his female friends, 
but when he went into the house, behold ! they were off 
to the plantation or somewhere out of sight. He then, 
of his own accord, wished us to remain with him, and 


said he would protect us. I thanked him, and said, if he 
wished, he could come with us to see the Dayspring, and 
that I would return with him on the morrow, the Sab- 
bath, and have reading and prayer with his people. He 
consented at once ; leaving his bow and arrows in the 
house, and taking his seat beside me in the boat along 
with his speaker, we were soon off. . . . He admired the 
Dayspring exceedingly, and was quite delighted with the 
cabin. After landing him 3,t the village opposite the 
Dayspring, we took the deputation from Cook's Bay on 
board, consisting of two petty chiefs, the teacher, and 
three or four others. The report as to the present state 
of Cook's Bay is not favourable. The people are at 
war, and it is very hard to tell when it may cease ; a 
petty chief was killed the night before we reached here. 
They did not consider it very safe for me to go over ; 
at least, they would not venture with me themselves 
by the short way ; and as to the long roundabout, which 
they came by and intended to return by, it was, they 
affirmed, quite impossible for me to accomplish it with 
my shoes on. They thought it would be as well for me 
to stay with our friend Lifu, and I could visit them 
occasionally at Cook's Bay. 

" The wind blowing strong on the Sabbath, we thought 
it would be as well to have a meeting with the people 
in the village opposite. We landed accordingly, and 
had a nice meeting with them among the rocks. . . . 
Early on Monday morning, we landed the Cook's Bay 
men, and took on board Lifu and his ' speaker '. We 
then set off for Unova with a fine breeze of fair wind. 
Before leaving the Dayspring, the captain made him a 
present of a large axe and gave a large butcher's knife 
to the ' speaker '. In the boat we talked about many 
things ; he declared his land was much better than that 
at Dillon's Bay, that the river at Potnuma was full of 



O 4 

Q "2 


large fish, and that / was a brother of his, to boot. His 
face, black by nature, was more so by art, so that I 
need not be too proud of the new relationship. Yet it 
is possible we may turn it to some account. On landing 
at Unova we were met by a crowd of blacks ; we went 
to see the chief's other place, himself leading the way. 
It is about a mile and a half from the first, and beside 
another small river. My object being to fix on a site 
for a station, Mr. Dawes, the mate, and myself came to 
the conclusion that Un5va, the landing place, would be 
a more suitable spot. We returned after seeing the 
chief's food and tobacco plantation. He gave my .naii. 
Yomot,^ as many yams as he could take for himself, 
and carried a great big one himself for me. On arriving 
at Unova we went over a piece of ground suitable for a 
station. I then sat on a stone, surrounded by a crowd 
of naked, painted savages, and wrote the following 
famous document in Erromangan, which, for your 
benefit, I shall translate into the Queen's English: — 

" ' I, Lifu Nokilian, Chief, sell the piece of ground 
which we have just gone over here at Unova, co 
Jakobo Macnair, Misi, for five hatchets, eleven 
butcher's knives, three pocket-knives, and a lot of 

X. His mark. 
Witnesses — Richard Dawes, mate. 
Unimpau Yomot. 
At Un5va, Erromanga, \%th Nov., 1867.' 

" Lifu asked when we should come. I said six months 
hence, which he considered long. In a few minutes we 
were off, the Chief following us into the water, waving 
his hands." 

Mr. Macnair was far from being a strong man ; he 


suffered often from various ailments during his short 
mission life ; yet, whenever able, he was eager and ready 
to be at work, and, as will be seen by the foregoing 
letter, even in the remoter districts of this large island. 
Potnuma, the district mentioned in the letter, was the 
place where Mr. Gordon settled on leaving Dillon's Bay, 
and where he met his death. Though their first year 
had been a peculiarly trying one to Mr. and Mrs. Mac- 
nair, the two succeeding ones were brighter. Many of 
the surrounding heathen became friendly, and from 
amongst the professing Christians who were under 
training, several became members of the Church. At 
the beginning of 1870, Mr. Macnair became ill, though 
at first the trouble did not seem serious. He was able 
to attend the annual meeting of Synod in June, and there 
it was arranged that he should go in the D'ayspring in 
July to Auckland and Rarotonga, in the hope that the 
long sea-voyage would do him good. 

He had not been home on Erromanga more than a 
fortnight when the end came, early on a Saturday morn- 
ing, the 15th of July, 1870. Mr. Inglis wrote that "a 
severe paroxysm " had come on the afternoon before. 
" He went in and lay down on the sofa. Mrs. Macnair 
asked him if he had much pain. He said ' No,' but 
added the trouble was his heart and a difficulty in breath- 
ing. The paroxysm passed off, and he was easier during 
the night ; but about daybreak another paroxysm came 
on. He began to retch, and, while Mrs. Macnair was 
holding him, she felt his head become heavy and a cold 
clamminess on his hands. She immediately sent for 
Mr. Smith, a white man, who had been there a few 
weeks commencing a whaling station, and who had 
formerly been second officer in the Dayspring. He 
came in an instant, but all was over. The Dayspring, 
with four of the missionaries on board, had left Erro- 


manga the week before, no one suspecting that this 
good man's race was so nearly run." Mr. Inghs added : 
" Though his death was sudden and unexpected, yet he 
was found prepared ; he knew in whom he had be- 
lieved ". 

How sad for Mrs. Macnair in her sore trouble to be 
so far from friends, with just her infant daughter! Mr. 
Smith went to Tanna and Aniwa a few days after, and 
brought to Dillon's Bay Mr. Baton and Mr. Neilson, 
who helped Mrs. Macnair in making her arrangements 
for leaving. " Mr. and Mrs. Macnair were," said Mr. 
Inglis, ''particularly well liked" by their own Erro- 
mangans and by the natives of Aneityum, and his death 
was " deeply lamented " by them all. His years on 
Erromanga, though few, were spent in earnest and heart 
whole consecration to his Master. The others who have 
followed them in the work here have had cause for deep 
gratitude when we have seen the results of the teachings, 
example and prayers of the noble Gordons and Mac- 
nairs during their life on " dark Erromanga ". 

Mrs. Macnair afterwards became the wife of the Rev. 
Dr. Turner,^ of Samoa. After a long and worthy mission 
career on Samoa, she and her husband returned to Eng- 
land. Dr. Turner's death occurred in May, 1891. Mrs. 
Turner's present home is in Birkenhead. Her daughter, 
born on Erromanga, is the wife of Dr. Kerr Cross, of the 
Livingstonia Mission in Central Africa. 

Mr. Gordon had for a long time been desirous of 
starting a mission on Santo. He had had two natives 
of that island with him for some time, and, with their 
help, had mastered one of the dialects of that large 
island. He had great aptitude for the learning of lan- 
guages ; his knowledge of Erromangan was perfect, and 
his translations almost without a mistake. He not only 


understood the enyau dialect, which is known all over the 
island, but also two others — the sorting and the ura^ 
which are only understood by a few. All our trans- 
lations are in the oiymi language ; the others I have 
never even attempted to learn ; for it is better to try to 
establish only one language on each island, if we can. 
In 1869, he was able to carry out his wish with regard 
to Santo, and pitched his tent near the spot now occupied 
by the Rev. J. Noble Mackenzie's house. But Erro- 
manga was to be his head station ; and, after a few 
months, he returned again to Portinia Bay. That was 
his last visit to Santo. 

No one can speak of Mr. Gordon's work as he could 
himself. I have before me two old and faded letters 
written by the martyr's hand, which are kindly lent to 
me by a friend of his and of our Mission, Mrs. Wark, 
of Bathurst, New South Wales. The letters give an 
insight into much of his daily work, and describe in 
detail the characters of a few of his helpers, principally 
young people and children ; for they are written to the 
pupils of Miss Eraser, now Mrs. Wark, and it is with her 
permission 1 now publish them: — 

*' Havannah Harbour, 
" Efate, gth November, 1869. 

« My Dear Young Friends, 

" This is the seventh day since we dropped 
anchor here, and as I have, for once, more leisure than 
I desire, I sit down to write you a loig letter. You 
remember that the first and last place in which I saw you 
was in the schoolroom, and it is to you there I now 
ask you to let me write : I mean to you all collectively 
and not individually. By doing the former I can write 
one long letter, and if I do the latter I can only write 
several short ones. I hope you may not be offended 


with me for doing so, for I would not displease you for 

" I think I promised when I should write you again 
to tell you about some of the young people on Erro- 
manga, and to mention some of their good qualities. 
This little epistle, then, will be something like tiny 
biographies. . . . But I may say, first, that there are 
very few children on Erromanga compared with the 
number on some other islands ; and wherever mission- 
aries go they like to see many children. We build our 
hopes upon the young people. There being very few 
little boys and girls on the island, their parents are 
fond of them and indulge them in every respect. They 
seldom correct them, and, when they do, it is in a wrong 
way and not from right motives. In this way, being 
allowed to do as they like, they grow up wayward, 
naughty and disobedient, and, never having been taught 
to exercise any control over themselves, grow up to be 
men and women who are passionate, revengeful and 
violent ; and, being under the power of the devil, they 
fight and kill each other. I have often seen quite young 
children behaving very badly towards their mothers. 
Generally they have more dread of the fathers. But 
it is very provoking to see young boys and girls, when 
they get into a pet, as they often do, throw themselves 
down on the ground, cry and screech, and kick the 
ground, and make a great dust and ado, and their 
mother looking on instead of chastising them. 

" There was a little boy that grew up on the Mission 
premises. He was the only child of his parents, and 
they used to indulge him in every way, till at last he 
paid no heed to his mother. I was observing her one 
day trying to persuade him to go home with her. She 
stood calling to him for nearly half an hour. One day 
T heard him screeching lustily just for the fun of it ; and 


I went to see what was the matter. I found him lying 
on his face on the floor of my cook-house, and with 
nothing the matter with him. I approached him unob- 
served, saying to myself, ' Now, my little lad, I'll give 
you something worth crying about,' and with a flat stick 
I gave him a few hard stripes, and you would have 
thought he would have brought the house down on our 
heads. He was never before so much taken with sur- 
prise ; but after a while became quiet, and was as docile 
as a lamb. He was for weeks afterwards a better 
boy, though he was shy of me, and used, especially in 
church, to give me some significant looks, as much as 
to say, ' You hard white-man, I have hard work in per- 
suading myself that you did that for my good, though 
I'm none the worse for it '. I very rarely corrected a 
boy, for were I to do so, he would be off and leave me ; 
but sometimes I could not refrain from doing so, and 
used to tell their parents that it was very wrong to allow 
their children to do such things. . . . 

" When I settled at Portinia Bay, I sent a man to ask 
permission of an inland and influential chief to do so. 
The chief's name was Potnilo, and he had been to 
Sydney once. Not wishing to see my messenger, he hid 
himself, and Netai came back disappointed. Potnilo's 
brother, who had been chief before him, had a son, a 
boy about ten years old, living with his uncle, whom, 
according to custom, he called 'father'.^ That httle 
boy's name was Novolu, and he followed Netai, my 
messenger, some distance on his way back, and told him 
he was much displeased with his father's conduct. He 
wished to follow Netai to my tent, but Netai forbade 
him, saying : ' Go home ; if you follow me, your father 
will hate me, and what is bad will thus become worse '. 
So he returned, but sent word to me to remain, and not 
to go to Santo. A day or two afterwards, I had an 


interview with Potnilo, at a place of meeting appointed 
by him, which was some distance from my tent. Several 
of his tribe accompanied him, and Novolu among the 
rest, my unseen, unknown young friend at court. He 
was a nice-looking, timid boy. Our business over, they 
all went their way, and we ours. Some months after- 
wards Potnilo paid me a visit ; Novolu and a younger 
brother were with him. He consented to let the elder 
one remain with me, which the boy was quite willing 
to do. 

" Not long afterwards, his father repented of what he 
had done; for he suspected that the boy was lost to 
heathenism, and, being of a patriarchal family, none of 
whom had embraced the Gospel, he felt that he had 
committed a great mistake. From time to time attempts 
were made to remove him, but in vain. One time in 
particular his father appointed a day — a feast day — 
on which, without fail, the boy must make his appear- 
ance. Novolu came to consult me about it. He said 
he would be away three days. I asked him what he 
would do if they should tie him up and speak evil of 
the Word of God to persuade him from taking up with 
it, and he told me that as regarded these things he was 
fully minded to return. One day after, I told Netai of 
our conversation, and said he was gone for three days. 
• Three days ! ' he exclaimed ; ' you'll not see him again.' 

" ' Oh, yes,' said I ; ' I think he will come back' 

" ' Well, I don't think so,' said he. 

" One morning, at daylight, Netai heard some one 
outside our house, and said, ' Who is there ? ' — ' I.' ' Is 
that you, Novolu .? ' — ' Yes.' ' Where have you come 
from .? ' — * I have run away ; they were speaking evil of 
Christianity, and had me a prisoner ; but I watched 
my chance and ran.' His mother,^ his uncle's wife, was 
privy to it, and he left while she was preparing some 


food for him ; for he knew that if he waited till daybreak 
they would detain him forcibly. . . . His mother I have 
not yet seen, but I have often been secretly aided and 
warned of impending danger by women. On opening 
the door that morning, the first one I saw was Novolu. 
Some time afterward I made him my cook, from necessity 
rather than choice. One day he broke a wash-hand 
basin ; I heard the natives calling and laughing at him 
about it outside, and knew that something had occurred. 
One boy in ten only would have done, under the circum- 
stances, what Novolu did : he came and told me what 
had happened. He soon began to learn to read and 
then to pray, and he gives promise of being a good 
and useful man, and that he may become such you will 
pray, I am sure ; will you not .'' He has been with me 
a year now, and is growing very fast. He was the only 
one I took with me to Santo, five months ago. God 
has taken good care of us ever since, for which I am very 
thankful. Had anything happened to him, had I now 
been going back without him, it would injure me very 
much ; for, as I left Erromanga as the Israelites left 
Egypt, that is, in haste, I had not time to ask his 
friends' leave, but took him away without it. A nasty 
old man — Netai's father, too — induced some heathen 
men to detain him by force, just as I was launching my 
boat to go on board. Hearing some one cry, I looked 
round, and saw two men dragging him off to the bush 
from the shore, he struggling in vain to get away. 
There were many collected on the shore that morning. 
I made a rush at the two who had hold of Novolu, and, 
just as I got up to them, they let him go. I was very 
angry at them. It did this much good, however, that it 
showed them he was going away willingly and not merely 
at my instance. For two reasons I felt uneasy about 
taking him. One was that I was aware some Erro- 


mangans had killed some natives of Santo a few years 
ago — killed them on their own island. Another was on 
account of sickness. While on our way back, the other 
day, we called at an island called Tongoa. Novolu 
wished to go to the shore with us and I consented, 
not knowing that a month or two ago a native of that 
island had been killed on Erromanga ; they would, 
perhaps, have killed him in revenge. He is a good 
trader. I gave him a few things to buy some curiosities 
on Santo to take home with him ; he bought some 
earthenware, such as the Santo people make, and other 
things.^ I told him, on seeing his stock, that I thought 
he was driving hard bargains. Some of the men of 
the vessel used to give him ' trade ' articles with which 
to buy bows and arrows, spears and clubs, and the like, 
for them ; for natives buy more cheaply from each other 
than we can from them. 

" Novolu, though a little boy, has a wife — a little girl 
of Cook's Bay. They were betrothed as children, after 
the native fashion. One day he asked me if he should 
give her up, and I told him to let the bargain stand. If 
they choose hereafter to take her from him, well and 
good. It is likely they may do so. And why .? I can show 
you that by introducing another boy to your notice, and 
telling what happened to him. He, too, is a chief's son — 
the son of the chief under whom the first missionaries 
were settled in Dillon's Bay. 

" Naling was quite a little boy when I settled there, 
but though young he soon carried a gun, and, by his 
desire to take part in the war in progress for two years, 
he used to give me so much trouble that I had to threaten 
him with expulsion. For a long time I had not a very 
good opinion of him, but he improved greatly upon ac- 
quaintance. The day I left Dillon's Bay for the last 
time, a chief two miles up the river died. He was the 


last of a line of high chiefs, and his death was much 
deprecated by his people. I went to see him a while 
before he died, though he was an enemy of Christianity, 
and died without hope. On his death, the chieftainship 
was offered Naling on condition that he renounced his 
profession of Christianity. This was a tempting offer 
for a boy, but he said that he had pledged his word 
to me to stand by the Christian cause and he intended 
to do so. He was satisfied with his choice. So all 
their efforts to shake his constancy were unavailing. 
That was a noble stand for a boy to take. But this 
bright picture has since been deeply shaded. 

" About six months after my departure, I heard of his 
being over at Cook's Bay to a feast ; and, what was 
somewhat singular, he had not called to see me. I was 
told that undue pressure had been brought to bear upon 
him, that, if he had refused to go and comply with the 
heathen customs of the island, he would have had his 
wife — a little girl that I used to see at a preaching-station 
near Bunkil — taken from him. On Erromanga there are 
not so many women as men, and every one — boys as 
well as men — is ambitious of having a wife. So you see 
how differently those two boys acted, and that, while 
Naling resisted temptation in one form, he fell into it 
in another, and that what he stumbled at Novolu was 
ready and able to step over. And this is not all. One 
sin committed makes room for the commission of another. 
Naling went to the feast without leave, and when he 
came back, on being questioned about his inconsistency, 
he told a lie. He said a man on the mission premises 
induced him to go, and it is very likely they would have 
a laugh over this among themselves. What need we 
have to dread the taking of the first wrong step, and to 
pray ' Lead us not into temptation ' ! 

" I will close my letter by giving you some account 


of Naling's sister, a young woman older than himself. 
When a little girl, she was bought — and that is the 
proper term — by a chief at Portinia Bay, a man old 
enough to be her father. After remaining a while with 
her owner, she ran away, and made her way back to 
Dillon's Bay, which was a clever feat in a country 
where there is no highway. On my settlement in 
Dillon's Bay, I found her there, a young girl, but in four 
years she grew up and looked upon me as her guardian, 
though she was living with a relative who was one of 
my best young men. He died, and Naling became her 
sole protector. She was in a great way on learning that 
I was going to leave the island. One day she came 
crying into my study, and said that the heathen were 
plotting to carry her off and deliver her up to him whom 
she had run away from when a little child ; that I was 
going away, and that she did not know of any one else 
who had either the will or the ability to protect her ; 
that she had spoken to Naling, and got no satisfaction. 
What made that place an asylum for her was the fact 
that her owner could not visit the western side of 
the island. I felt deeply for her, poor creature, and said 
that I would have a talk with Naling on the subject. 
I found that he was willing to use his influence to 
prevent her being given up to the heathen. She re- 
ceived the information, poor thing, with mingled feehngs 
of hope and distrust. 

" 20th November. — Since writing the foregoing, Novolu 
and I have returned to the spot we left four months 
ago, and glad indeed and thankful to God for His good- 
ness to US-ward, and to those the few whom we left 
behind us here. But some sad tidings awaited us both. 
I said to him the second morning after we got back : 
' You can go now and see your father and friends '. But 


he was unwilling to go, as he had learned that his 
* father ' — his uncle, rather — had, during his absence, sold 
his two sisters, young girls ; he is angry about it, and 
thinks he will have nothing more to do with him. His 
mother came next day to see him, and to persuade him 
to go with her and remain ten months, make a feast, 
get some rings and boars' tusks, and thus become a big 
chief. He does not, however, seem to care much about 
their inducements. His mother said she and his sisters 
also cried greatly and mourned for him as for one dead,, 
which I believe they did. But his uncle has done very 
wickedly in selling his sisters, and the worst of it is — 
to men old enough to be their grandfathers. And what 
was got for each ? A ring ^ — an image of the moon, 
which is the symbol of the chief's power, and which is 
coveted more than anything else. These two unhappy 
young girls have been sold to old men residing far 
away, and made miserable for ever. One of them, it is 
said, climbed a tree for the purpose of casting herself 
down, but, after being in the tree a long time, she was 
rescued. . . . How thankful you should be that you 
cannot be sacrificed for money as these poor, defenceless 
little girls have been ! True are the words of God, as 
written by Paul — the heathen are devoid of ' natural 
affection '. 

" I must now close this letter without referring to the 
notes that I received from some of you. The fact is 
that I have only just had the pleasure of reading them, 
as they were left behind, unopened, when I went to 
Santo. . . . You all remind me that you have been keep- 
ing your promise made to Dr. Moon, and I am glad of 
that. You will see that I, and we all here, need your 
prayers, and it is very encouraging to have the assurance 
that we are deriving benefit from them. Pray on. 


Pray for us. ' Prayer moves the hand that moves the 
world' With many thanks and best wishes, 
" I remain, 

" Yours very sincerely, 

"J. D. Gordon." 

The next letter was written at — 

" PoRTiNiA Bay, 
"Erromanga, 2nd December, 1870. 

. . . After acknowledging letters from his " young 
friends " in Sydney, he says : " To each and all of you 
I am largely indebted for all the kind interest you take 
in one whom you call the ' Children's Missionary '. I 
wish I were worthy of being such. ... I did not get to 
Santo this year, and why, I need not begin to tell you. 
Something or somebody hindered, and, if somebody, I 
hope it was not Satan. I feel sure the people of Santo 
must think and speak hardly of me, but that would be 
a small matter, if it could be disassociated from the 
interests of the Gospel, which must suffer under so much 
mismanagement. ... A short time after I had decided 
upon not going to Santo this year, Mr. Macnair died. 
This, of which you must have heard with regret some 
months ago, occurred in July. Since that, my time has 
been divided between this place and Dillon's Bay, and 
I have recently taken up another place. Cook's Bay. . . . 
I used to meet the children at noon, on Sabbath, 
between the forenoon and afternoon services. There 
were a good many of them, eighteen or twenty some- 
times, but several were too small to learn anything at all. 
They would not try even to learn to sing ' Happy 
Land '. Still it was pleasant to meet them, and I felt 
sorry when the time came for my leaving them. Two 
of these were little girls, and delicate. They used to 


come down the river, sometimes alone. After each had 
got one of the dresses made by you, one day after the 
class was dismissed, one of them came up to me, pointed 
to her foot, saying it was sore — which it was — and she 
was lame ; then with as pleasant an appearance and 
persuasive voice as possible, she said : ' Name (that is, 
" mamma ") is very cold ; she would like a garment '. It 
would have been impossible to refuse ; so I said I would 
see her in the morning, which I did, and she got what 
she wanted. The begging propensity is pretty strong 
in them however, and she soon asked for an additional 
dress for herself, but I thought that would be * too much 
for a little canoe \ However, they were regular attenders 
up to the time that I left, nearly a month ago, though 
1 do not know that they learned anything. There was 
one little girl, quite a little one, when I first came to 
the island, but now a little maid, and two boys who 
learned something, and these were all that I could dis- 
cover. You cannot conceive how dull and dark some of 
their minds are, both young and old. The little girl was 
my cook and house-maid — tent-maid I ought to say. 
She has two names : one is Undawiung, and the other 

" One little boy died, Urumunu, after a few days' ill- 
ness. He too was with me from the time of my first 
settlement in Dillon's Bay. He was always a weakly, 
lame child, but a very smart and pleasant boy. He was 
the best scholar, though quite a young boy, and the 
most obedient. He used to pray, even in my presence, 
before I left them three years ago. He used to sing 
nicely, and his sweet, though shrill, little voice was on 
the Sabbath day quite distinguishable from the others. 
He suffered greatly before his death, and I could do 
nothing for him to relieve him. The medicines appeared 
to take no effect. I was shocked at his death ; it was 


so sudden, for I was with him two hours before, and had 
so httle thought that he would die that I did not even 
ask him if he were afraid to die ; for I do not like to 
speak to them about death unless I believe they cannot 
recover. And so, when Urumunu was taken, I lost my 
favourite boy of all the boys on the island with whom I 
am acquainted. How much happier our lot would be 
if all, young and old, were as well-behaved and obedient 
as was that little boy! . . . However, there are some 
promising boys now, if they continue so. But it is so 
hard to get them removed beyond the influence of their 
heathen friends. Indeed, rarely can that be effected. 
I only know of three or four instances. But there may 
be more given in answer to your prayers if you persevere. 
We need your prayers, I assure you, for many are they 
who fight against us. Let us remember Him who said, 
and still says to us : ' Without Me ye can do nothing '. 
That is absolutely true. 

" You told me in your letters that you were afraid I 
would be tired of reading them, they were so many. 
Now it is my turn to say I fear you will weary of mine, 
it is so long and there is so little in it after all. Any- 
how, let it lure take ending. My benediction i.> worth 
nothing, else I would give it you. ' The blessing of the 
Lord maketh rich and addeth no sorrow therewith.' 
Good-bye for the present. 

" Yours very sincerely, 

"J. D. Gordon." 


1869-1872 — Continued. 

The visit to Santo mentioned by Mr. Gordon in the first 
of the foregoing letters to his young friends proved to 
be the last that he ever paid to that island, though for 
its evangelisation his heart yearned with all the intensity 
of his nature. His second letter, written at Potnuma, 
bears testimony to the deep and abiding interest he took 
in Santo and its people, and how disappointed he was 
when the way was not open for continuing his visits 
and teachings. A number of young people had 
gathered round him, and they had evidently become 
attached to him, for, years after, when missionary depu- 
tations visited that particular part of Santo, a number of 
natives, principally young people, anxiously inquired 
when their own tall missionary would come back to 
them as he had promised to do. Mr. Milne, referring 
to a visit he had made there in company with Mr. Inglis, 
wrote to me : " What a splendid place this is for a 
missionary! I think it is the finest in the group, ;.nd 
what an interesting people! There is nothing to pre- 
vent a man being settled here at once." 

The last year of Mr. Gordon's life on Erromanga 
was devoted largely to the translating of portions of the 
Gospels and revising his own and his brother's trans- 
lations. The book of Genesis was printed in Sydney in 
1867, and the Gospel of Matthew in London, by the 
British and Foreign Bible Society, at a later date. He 


1 869- 1 8/2 149 

visited most of the districts near his station on foot, 
some of the roads being too rough for his horse ; but 
he was able to travel to Cook's Bay on horseback. This 
he frequently did, and had his tent pitched on a raised, 
rough floor, inside a siman-lo'^ or ' feasting-house '. 
Though they were all heathens, the high chiefs and im- 
portant people of that district were friendly to Mr. 
Gordon, and were roused to indignation when they heard 
of his tragic death. At Ifwa, upon one occasion when he 
was visiting round the island in his boat, he and his crew 
were within an inch of being massacred. The chief's 
influence over his people alone prevented them from 
dragging up the boat as soon as it touched the shore 
and tomahawking all on board. Out of resentment, 
they snatched a fine double-barrelled gun from Sempint, 
one of the crew, and ran off with it. Sempint never 
recovered his gun, and often, when the other members 
of the crew would be describing to me their escape 
from a cruel death, he would break in with : " But 
think of my loss — the loss of my fine new gun. Oh! 
my beloved gun ! " The lives of his missionary and of 
all in the boat that day, including his own, were evidently 
a trifle compared with the loss of his gun. On a pre- 
vious visit to Ifwa, Mr. Gordon had shared his scanty 
dinner with the chief, had conversed pleasantly and 
respectfully with him, and had, on leaving, given him a 
small present. It was this simple act of kindness that 
now saved his life and that of all with hira.^ 

During the first part of his stay at Potnuma, a great 
cave was used as a place for service, but Mr. Gordon 
was soon able to build a church of concrete walls and 
thatched roof, and also his own dwelling-house. The 
young people from distant villages who had come for 
instruction soon learned to read, and thus to " open the 
doorl^ or " the entrance of the way" as they express 


it, " into God's sacred Book ". Their very eagerness 
to receive this instruction which was opening their eyes 
to the priceless blessings of the Gospel of our Lord 
and Saviour, and causing them to turn with loathing 
from the reign of cruelty, ignorance and shame on every 
hand, only the more enraged the heathen against the 
Gospel and the young converts, and especially against 
the missionary, whom they regarded as the noatnin^ 
' root,' of the whole matter. They resolved that he 
should pay the penalty with his life. By his death this 
new religion would be for ever crushed on their island. 
Those in distant lands who had sent missionaries again 
and again to Erromanga would surely not be mad enough 
to send a tampenum, ' successor,' to this man. 

And now the end was not far off. James Gordon's 
death removed from the little band of as devoted and sin- 
cere Christians as it has ever been my lot to know, their 
dearest earthly friend, or, as they themselves expressed 
it, "it had put out their last light". It added another 
name to the long roll of God's martyrs, and while it 
rent the heart of Christendom afresh, it increased, if 
possible, the undying interest in Erromanga and its un- 
happy people. Gladly would I pass over the closing 
scene, so heart-rending and mysterious does it all seem. 
I have so often been at the spot where Gordon fell and 
bled to death, and have stood still, as upon holy ground, 
by his lonely grave, with the most solemn feelings that 
have ever wrung my heart. Had he not toiled and 
prayed and suffered and given up at last his very 
life for Erromanga .^ 

On Thursday morning, 7th March, 1872, all the strong 
young men and lads had gone to cut poles to fence the 
burying ground, which was about half a mile up the 
valley. Netai, a true and able friend, had, just a fortnight 
before, been settled as a teacher beyond Traitor's Head 

1869-1872 151 

and within Cook's Bay. Only two lame men and one 
boy were with Mr. Gordon at the Mission station. But 
this was nothing unusual. Frequently there are so few 
native helpers, especially in the early years of one's 
work, that when anything requiring more than one 
workman is to be done, the missionary is often obliged 
to send all his available help to do that work. This 
is not desirable, but we have all had to do it. On this 
occasion, the enemy knew all this, the murderer and his 
accomplice lived quite near, and the plot having been 
made two months before by several high chiefs in dif- 
ferent parts of the island, it only remained for them to 
watch their chance. 

All the forenoon of the fatal day, Mr. Gordon was 
busy revising his brother's translation of the Acts of the 
Apostles, assisted by his able and faithful pundit,^ Soso. 
He had reached the middle of the seventh chapter, where 
the narrative of the stoning of Stephen occurs ; Soso 
afterwards gave me the manuscript, and the corrections 
in new ink were easily traced so far, and ended there. 
About midday Nerimpau, the murderer, and his accom- 
plice, Nare, appeared on the verandah of the Mission- 
house. Mr. Gordon and Soso both saw the men, for 
only the glass door, or French window, separated them. 
They asked for empty bottles, which natives like to get 
for holding their drinking-water in preference to their 
long bamboo bottles * or cocoanut-shells. Mr. Gordon 
suspected nothing, and, asking Soso to look over once 
more their corrections, rose and gave the men what they 
wanted. He then gave some rice to Nov5lu Naiyup, 
the young lad who was his cook, and told him to boil it 
for his dinner. As the two men were still hanging 
about and talking to him, he sat down on the verandah 
in his arm-chair — the same that I had seen him making 
on board the Day spring in the autumn of 1863, while 


we were on our way to the Cape. Nare stood on the 
ground facing him, and Nerimpau by his side on the 
verandah. Nare engaged Mr. Gordon in conversation, 
and Nerimpau, seeing his opportunity, instantly plunged 
his tomahawk into his victim's face. The poor man 
sprang to his feet, and, pushing open the glass door 
leading into his study, fell heavily upon the floor. Soso, 
who had left the manuscript lying on the floor, where 
he had been sitting, and had gone into the dining-room, 
heard the thud when Mr. Gordon fell. On entering, 
he found him lying on his face, the blood rushing from 
a fearful gash in his side-face and from his mouth. He 
made an attempt to turn upon his back, his lips moved, 
Soso thought in prayer, and then with one long-drawn 
deep gasp his spirit returned to the God who gave it 
and to the Saviour whom he had so faithfully loved. 
" What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and 
whence came they 1 " 

Novolu Naiyup, the young cook, saw the awful deed 
from where he was working ; he afterwards told us that 
Nerimpau tried to prevent Mr. Gordon from entering 
his study, but, failing in that, he followed him in and 
pulled the tomahawk from the face of his victim. So 
deep had the blow fallen that Mr. Gordon carried the 
fatal axe sticking in his skull as he rushed to his room. 
How horrid the callousness of the native who, not con- 
tent with his foul murder, made sure of taking his axe 
away with him. They were determined to kill him, for 
a native, an enemy, had been some time lying in the 
kitchen professedly asleep. If Nerimpau and Nare 
failed, he was to kill the missionary ; should he also fail, 
yet another man was concealed on the bank of the river, 
where they knew Mr. Gordon would be going to bathe 
in the afternoon. As soon as the murder was com- 
mitted and Nerimpau had secured his weapon, the two 

1869-1872 153 

men fled down the path, the ' sleeping ' foe in the kitchen 
closely following. 

Mr. Gordon had fallen with his face upon his manu- 
script, and, when he was moved, it was found that 
that page — his last writing — was stained with his life- 
blood. Soso in great grief sent the young lad Novolu 
to call the men from their work, and as soon as possible 
a messenger was sent to Netai. He, poor fellow, on 
hearing the news, ran the whole distance from Cook's 
Bay, over the rocky mountain paths. ^ Together they 
made a rude coffin for their loved missionary, and, in 
bitter grief, buried him that same evening in a spot which 
Mr. Gordon had pointed out for his burial, should his 
death occur. 

I should like to insert here the following letter written 
to me lately by Rev. Dr. Paton, who knew well and 
esteemed the martyred Gordons, and can speak with 
knowledge of their work. 

■•Aniwa, 22rd yune, 1899. 

" Dear Mr. Robertson, 

" In replying to yours, I may say that I 
cannot find a letter of the martyrs of Erromanga in my 
possession. All from George N. Gordon were lost, with 
all else I possessed except my pocket Bible, when I had 
to escape from Tanna.^ He and his wife were pious, 
able, consecrated missionaries, who had to submit to 
much self-denial and hardship in laying the foundations 
of the Lord's work on blood-stained Erromanga. They 
were my chief friends, and our Christian intercourse was 
precious. Mrs. Gordon was an excellent woman, and 
a great comfort and help to her husband in all their work 
and trials, in all their dangers resignedly resting on 
Jesus and encouraging him, seemingly without fear. 

" The Rev. Joseph Copeland and I spent a Saturday 


and Sabbath with them on Erromanga shortly before 
their deaths. We had taken to them a harmonium in 
the John Knox, our first mission schooner. Mrs. Gordon 
and the natives were dehghted, as she taught them with 
it to sing hymns. They had a number of young men 
and women, who had become Christians, hving with 
them or near them. The Sabbath was indeed one 
spent with Jesus and His dear servants. The savages, 
to stop the extending of the Lord's work there, had 
resolved to murder the missionaries. . . . Almost together 
they received their martyr-crowns, and entered into the 
joy of their Lord in the glory of Heaven. The young 
men . . . laid their remains in the grave, over which 
weeping and wailing they vowed, ' We will conquer 
Erromanga for Jesus, or die as our missionaries have 
died in the effort '. After this, in the missionary's boat, 
they came to me on Tanna, and in great sorrow informed 
me of the, to them, great loss of their missionary and 
his wife. Having got such advice as they needed, they 
returned to carry out their vow. 

" James Gordon, a brother of the martyred man, then 
a student in Canada, resolved to go to Erromanga, and, 
if possible, convert to the service of our God the mur- 
derers of his brother and sister. He came out with the 
first Dayspring, and claimed the same friendship I had 
had with his brother, which was given, and continued 
unbroken till his death. He also was a heavenly 
minded, consecrated missionary, full of burning zeal for 
the conversion and eternal salvation of the savages of 
Erromanga. His brother's few converts received him 
with great joy, and faithfully stood by him. He had 
constituted a church among them, and was having suc- 
cess, when the Rev. James and Mrs. Macnair joined our 
Mission and cast in their lot with Mr. Gordon on Erro- 
manga. In his noble, self-denying spirit, Mr. Gordon 

1869-1872 155 

gave them his house and church at Dillon's Bay, and, 
accompanied by a few of his young men and women, 
he went to Portinia Bay, on the opposite side of the 
island, to begin a new station. Mr. Macnair died after 
a short period of devoted labour, when Mr. Gordon had 
to take charge of and work both stations. I accom- 
panied Mr. Gordon, and helped him to pitch his tent on 
Santo, where he wished also to preach the Gospel. To 
stop God's work, the savages of Erromanga resolved to 
murder him as they had done to his brother. . . . On my 
next visit Mr. Gordon was at Dillon's Bay, and we spent 
our time in consultation and prayer, fearing we should 
not meet again, as his dangers and ours appeared about 
equal. We urged him much to leave with us, but he 
would not; trusting God, he felt it to be his duty to 
remain. On our leaving, he accompanied me to the 
boat. Our hearts were too full then for speaking, but, 
looking earnestly at each other, we said good-bye. I 
jumped into the boat, and, hat in hand, he sat down 
on the stones on the shore, and, when we were losing 
sight of each other, he rose, waved his last farewell, and 
returned to his house. Soon after this, when at Portinia 
Bay, he was revising the translation of Stephen's 
martyrdom. He had reached the words, ' Lord Jesus 
receive my spirit, and lay not this sin to their charge,' 
when he, too, fell asleep. ... In bitter grief and weeping 
over their loss the Christian natives laid his body in a 
grave by the sea-shore, and over it renewed the vow to 
conquer Erromanga for Jesus. They again came to me in 
the missionary's boat, and, on Aniwa, in agony told me of 
their loss. After conversation, prayer and advice, in a 
few days they returned to fulfil their vow like true 
Christian heroes. You know better than I how, through 
your dear wife, yourself and these men, that vow has 


been redeemed, and that Erromanga is now a Christian 
island, for which we all praise our dear Lord Jesus. 

" The noble Gordons and Macnairs were most excel- 
lent missionaries, as well as my dear fellow-labourers in 
the darkest days of our Mission. Now they all have their 
reward with Jesus in the glory and joys of heaven. May 
we all at last meet there as His redeemed. 

" Yours faithfully, 

"John G. Paton." 

Dr. Paton speaks of the young men going to Aniwa 
in the mission-boat. S6s5 sent by them a letter, which, 
translated by the Rev. Peter Milne, of Nguna, reads as 
follows : — 

" I am Soso. Love to you, Misi Paton. Why this 
word of mine to you ? Because the Erromangans have 
killed Misi Gordon, and he is not here now. A man 
named Nerimpau struck Misi in the month of March, 
the 7th day, Thursday. There was one servant with 
Nerimpau, named Nare. He (Nerimpau) cut his fore- 
head with a tomahawk one time only, and I buried 
him there at Potnuma, according to the word which he 
had spoken, namely : ' If I die, bury ye me here ; after- 
wards send word to the missionaries ' ; and I did so. 
And I assembled the young men, and the children and 
the women, and remained there on Friday and Satur- 
day and Sunday. I saw Naling and part of the young 
men from Dillon's Bay. The carpenter sent them to 
bring us from Potnuma. And I asked them about the 
goods and the house ; and they thought that we should 
leave them. Accordingly, on Monday we made ready. 
I took the money, and the books which he made with his 
hand (MSS.) in the English, Erromangan, and Espiritu- 
Santo languages, and part of the clothes and the knives ; 

1 869- 1 872 '57 

I have them here, and the portraits are in my house at 
Unpotindi (Cook's Bay) ; the chiefs there keep them. 
And on Tuesday I took the young men, and the children 
and the women — forty-three in all — from that village, 
and lay in the bush ; and on Wednesday we went in 
haste to Umbongkora (Dillon's Bay), and remained 
there on Thursday. On Friday, nine young men re- 
turned to Roviliau, and killed three men and one woman 
— these were four ; they were able to smite more, but 
the carpenter forbade it. The heathen took all the 
goods from the house, and burned the holy books, and 
broke down the house. Thus do the wicked Erro- 
mangans treat the children of God ; and this is the 
only thought of the men here — they burn the Word of 
Jehovah, and think it dead. This man, Nerimpau, his 
child died ; he hated and killed Misi." '^ 

Thus far the faithful Soso's short account. I am now 
going to give Yomofs detailed story of that tragic time. 
He has often and often given it, and how 1 wish I could 
present a picture of him as he tells it! now sitting 
calmly, now springing to his feet, his beautiful dark eyes 
blazing, his whole body swaying with excitement, as he 
recalls the past. He goes through every motion, and by 
his interest and realistic description carries iis, too, away 
back to the time when Erromanga was yet dark Erro- 
manga. This is what he told me. 

Yomot's^ Story. 

" When Mr. Gordon came to Potnuma I was living 
quite near him, and was one of the young men who 
helped him with his work. But we were very few ; the 
heathen would not allow their boys to come to the 
* Misi,' and those who did venture of their own accord 
were cruelly used by the angry people, who used to 


come and drag them away; some were even killed 
and eaten. Those were dreadful days ; when the tribes 
fought, those that were overcome were doomed to the 
awful death. ' Misi,' I have seen them, the poor victims, 
still living and in writhing agony, bound, as we bind 
pigs, to a long pole, and carried along by a band of 
wild, painted savages, yelling their exultant war-cry. 
And they were not then, as now, few in number; the 
hills, the valleys, every bay, every headland teemed with 
people. We would be working in our plantations, or 
perhaps sitting, resting, when we would hear the heavy 
tramp of hurried feet and the war-cry. Two men would 
rush past us, the pole they bore swaying with the weight 
of the poor man beneath it ; more would dash past still, 
with their loud whoop, whoop, whoop ! that made the very 
hills ring with the echo, one man after another being 
rushed on to his doom. It was a sickening sight, but 
we were used to it and felt it not as we should now. 

" Mr. Gordon was surrounded by various tribes of 
hostile people, only the chiefs of Cook's Bay being 
friendly. When he first landed at Potnuma, his tent 
was pitched for a dwelling-place, and it was not long 
before the Dayspring returned with Mr. Paton on 
board, and our Misi left us to go to Santo. Novolu 
Navorem, a young boy who was living with him, asked 
to go too, and Mr. Gordon wished to take him that he 
might help him, cook for him, and assist him, too, in 
learning the Erromangan language. But the boy's 
friends were angry. * He shall not go ! ' they said, and, 
when the boat came to the shore, they gathered round 
it. As Novolou went to step into the boat, the men 
caught hold of him ; he struggled, but they pulled him 
out, and dragged him away. Mr. Gordon rushed after 
them, pushed them all aside, for he was a big powerful 
man, lifted the boy right into the boat, then jumped in 

1 869- 1 872 159 

himself, and they were off. He was not easily turned 
aside from his purpose. When he returned from Santo, 
he built his house at Potnuma, and the great cave there 
was made into a church. 

" After he had been many months teaching us and 
translating the ' word,' visiting the people round about, 
and striving to change their heathen hearts, one day he 
called us all : ' Come, oviarep, ' young men, boys,' he 
said, ' let us go to Ifwa, where I have never been '. So 
we started in the Yarra- Yarra^ but soon I was so ill 
that Mr. Gordon said to me, * You go back, Yomot, and 
look after my house '. Soon after I returned to Pot- 
numa, the mother of Navusia, my wife, took ill, and we 
crossed over the hills to see her. They said — the Misi 
and those who went with him — that I should not have 
done this, that my place was on the Mission-grounds. 
But I was young and headstrong, and had not looked 
at my conduct in that light. Netai, who was my ' own 
brother,* ^^ was very angry, and forbade me to return to 
them. Now, in my heart I knew that the Misi had no 
more faithful friend than I, but when Netai said this 
to me I replied : ' Let it be so ; you keep me away ; go 
you back to your land, and I will stop here where I am 
a stranger '. So the time went by and I lived at Um- 
bongkora (Dillon's Bay), and worked for Smith by the 
river, on the south side. One day I went far up the 
valley in search of bread-fruit, and was plucking some, 
when I thought I heard some one calling me. ' Who is 
there } ' I replied, and I had scarcely spoken when I 
saw, hurrying down the mountain track, Novolu Naim- 
pium, looking frightened and troubled. ' Yomot, 
Yomot !' he called to me, ^ oveteme utai Misi Gordon !' 
* the people have killed Mr. Gordon ! ' Oh, what evil 
news was this to me ! My Misi, whom I loved in spite of 
all my hastiness, cut down and by my own people. My 


heart was heavy, and for many days we wept for him 
who had been taken from us. I was all the time restless 
and troubled ; for, although I told no one of my feelings, 
right down in my heart was the longing for revenge 
against the cruel people who had so used us. Was it 
wrong, Misi ? What would yon have done if your friend 
had been deceived and killed by lying men ? How 
would you have felt if your ' brother ' had been slain 
by cruel hands, even though the murderer were of your 
own land ? Mt'st, I zvas Just hungry for them. But I 
thought, ' What am I to do .? Here am I in this strange 
land, Umbongkora ; these people are not my people ; I 
am alone, and, if I do anything rash, strangers are all 
around, and I shall be powerless.' They suspected me, 
and said, ' What are you thinking of } why is it you go 
about as if you were everybody's enemy ? ' Naling, the 
chief of Umbongkora, he, too, wished revenge, and we 
spoke of killing that old nareki sat, ' wicked fellow,' 
Auwi-auwi, Woris Nangeri, and Narai, who had always 
been our enemy, and who had attempted the death of 
Mr. Gordon for many months. But Narai, who was at 
Sufa, heard of our intention, and kept away. A canoe 
passed us with two men who were going to take him to 
a nisekar, ' feast '}^ I seized my gun. ' Come, let us kill 
these wretches,' I said. Naling said that he would fire. 
I told him that if he would do it, to see that his aim was 
iure and not to let them go. But the canoe kept far 
too far away, and they escaped us — those two who were 
Narai's friends. Naling had far better have let me 
shoot them. ^2 

" On a Saturday we left Umbongkora — I, and the 
boys, and Naling, and Naimpium ; that night we lay in 
the bush, and on Sunday we reached Potnuma, and 
saw the men of Loves, Netai, and his brothers Lifu and 
Novolu Teruvat. Our faces were sad when we met, 

1 869-1 872 161 

for our Misi had been killed. Soso then told us to make 
ready to leave that land, and on Monday some of us, 
who were strong, with the children, the old people, the 
women and those who were weak left in the Yarra- Yarra 
to go round to Umbongkora. We were too many, and, 
the boat beginning to sink, we returned in haste to the 
shore. We lay on Tuesday night at Umpon-pohur, in 
the hills, and the next day we reached Umbongkora. 
We at once made a stockade round the Mission-house, 
where we all gathered for safety, and Netai put the 
young men and boys to guard the place. 

" ' Now,' we said, ' the children, the women and the 
old and weak people are here ; they are safe, and we 
have work to do.' For two days mafeli pwohas mafeli 
pzvorap, ' from morning till evening,' I prepared for my- 
self cartridges until my belt was filled, and that night 
we slept. In the early morning we rose and ate food. 
' Now,' said I to the young men with me, ' be ready ; 
we have work before us,' and I stood up and tied my 
cartridge-belt round me. I put my gun over my 
shoulder, and, holding out my hand to the carpenter, 
said : ' Give me caps '. He gave me them, and I placed 
them in my garment. ' Give me tobacco.' He handed 
me that, and I put it in my pouch. ' Give me matches,' 
and he gave them to me. ' My love to you all,' I said ; 
' I am away.' I overtook Netai and the young men on 
the road, and we hastened along our way. All day we 
walked and told each other to be ready for any foe 
that we might meet ; for the heathen were all around 
us, and at any moment might find out our errand. 
When we reached Roviliau we rested and drank neserop^ 
' cocoanut milk,' for we were tired and thirsty. Soon 
we had to hurry on. Darkness came upon us ; we could 
scarcely see the road, but / knew every spot, every turn 
of it ; for was it not my land ? Some of the lads, their 


hearts failed them. ' We cannot see ; we do not know 
the selat, ' road/ they said. ' I am the selai,' I called 
back, as I snatched a branch that was shining ^^ with light 
and tied it on my back. So, as I darted along under 
great trees, over clefts, they caught the glimmer of the 
light ahead and followed. Soon we approached Arawau, 
and we spoke in whispers, for there might be foes near. 
' Hear, you young men ; ' I said, ' there may be many 
to meet; there may be but few; these nelevokevat, 
' heathen,' have killed our Misi. Are we going to allow 
this and do nothing } ' They say, * These Christians are 
women ; they cannot handle a battle-axe, and we can 
kill as we please.' ' Show them your strength, if you 
have any. Let no man know his brother or his father ; 
we have no brothers, no fathers to-night. At Arawau, 
we killed the brother of my mother and his wife. They 
had hated our Misi, and done him harm, and Christian 
boys had been cooked and eaten in that very village.' 
Then we turned again to the road, remembering that we 
had left Wawis and Lifu Ukina alone, and that they 
might be in danger ; but they were quite safe. 

" Soon we caught sight of footprints, and came across 
a young man — an enemy. We deceived him, and told 
him to come and show us the road. He pointed it out : 
' There is the se/a/ '. ' Come and show us,' we answered, 
' we do not know it ; go you ahead and we will follow.' 
He seemed to suspect something; but, though afraid, 
tried to hide his fear, and came forward. Nariovi was 
behind him, and when he saw his chance killed the man, 
and he lay dead by the roadside. Later we fell in with 
more people. One man, his name was Umas, a man of 
Unepang, talked with us, and when he left I stole away 
from my friends and followed him. It was not long 
before he, too, fell dying from a wound by my gun-shot. 
Umas was a fan-Id, ' great chief/ or one belonging to a 

1 869- 1 872 163 

family of High Chiefs, of Unepang, and after his death 
his people vowed vengeance on me. It was for this that 
the oveteme Unepang^^ hated me, and you know, Misi 
that for years they wanted my death. 

" So we returned to Umbongkora, our hands red with 
blood, and our hearts, perhaps, red too. We would 
have gone on with the revenge, but, we said, that, 
perhaps, if we did, the missionaries would say that we 
were heathen and murderers ourselves. But, Misi, 
though we were sorry afterwards for our conduct, T 
sometimes think that we did not do so wrongly as some 
said we did. The Erromangans were killing, killing all 
the time, cruel to the Christians, and doing everything 
to endanger the lives of the missionaries. They had 
killed Mr. Williams and Mr. Harris, then Mr. Gordon 
and his wife, and now they had cruelly slain my own 
Misi, and still their bad work went on. They said we 
were ' women '. We showed them that we were men 
as well as Christians, and that we would defend our 
friends and ourselves against their cruelties. When we 
returned to Umbongkora, the people ^/ere still gathered 
together, and Soso at their head. We kept watch every 
night within the stockade, and we had long talks to- 
gether. Some wished to ask the missionaries to take 
us away in the Dayspring, and put us on an island 
where we might worship without fear and in peace. 
But others of us were against this. We said, ' What is 
this word — that the missionaries take us away ? Who 
can tell when we can return to this island and when we 
can have peace } If God be for us He will protect us, 
and will be with us here in our own land and not in the 
land of the stranger.' " 



Up to this point, Erromanga's story has been given from 
the standpoint of an onlooker, but I have now to in- 
troduce myself as an actor in most of the events ; for 
more than twenty-nine years Erromanga has been our 
home, and the story of the island and of our life are 
bound up inseparably together. 

In Canada, the news that came from Mr. Gordon at 
his lonely post had been such as to cheer and encourage 
us, and my preparations for mission-work in the New 
Hebrides had gone on. I knew that the particular 
station which I should occupy would be arranged for on 
my arrival. I was licensed in St. Andrew's Church, by 
the Presbytery of Halifax, on Friday morning, the nth 
of August, 1 87 1, and on the evening of the same day, 
at eight o'clock, was ordained as a foreign missionary, 
and set apart to the special held of the New Hebrides. It 
was an occasion I cannot easily forget. I had never 
been present at an ordination service and had no idea 
until then of its great solemnity. Dr. Grant, now of 
Kingston, set forth the steps that led to the ordination ; 
the Rev. John Macmillan addressed the congregation ; 
the Rev. John Campbell giving the charge to me. I 
seemed to reahse in a very special manner, at that mo- 
ment, what a solemn vow I had taken, and the sacred 
trust that was given to me as an ambassador of Christ. 
A fortnight afterwards I had the privilege of being 



iParje 164. 


present at, and of taking part in, the ordination of my 
life-long friend, the Rev. J. W. Mackenzie, who, since 
1872, has been working on Efate, as devoted and suc- 
cessful a missionary as our Canadian Church has ever 
sent to the foreign field. The service was interesting 
in every way, because of the great occasion and also 
for friendship's sake. Mr. Mackenzie was ordained at 
Green Hill, where Dr. George Patterson was minister. 

I had always felt that a missionary should be well 
equipped by training for work in a foreign field, and I 
was strongly of the opinion that he should have a wife. 
Hence, while busily preparing myself in other ways, 
I had not left this duty undone. A friend laughingly 
told me at this time of the man who prayed for guidance 
in the choice of a wife. " O Lord," he thus prayed, 
" guide me in this matter, and help me to choose aright ; 
I leave all in Thy hands, and will be content with whom- 
soever Thou wilt point out to me ; but, O Lord, let it be 
Betsy." I fancy my friend and I were somewhat in the 
same state of mind, and, while professing that we were 
leaving " this matter " in better hands than ours, were 
at the same time intent on having the woman of our 
choice. On the 6th of September, 1871, Miss Dawson, 
of Little Harbour, Pictou, became my wife. This was 
not her good-bye to her parents and friends ; for we 
visited her home and mine shortly before we set sail in 
October. There were numberless meetings and fare- 
well services. The Rev. J. W. and Mrs. Mackenzie and 
the Rev. J. D. and Mrs. Murray were to leave for the 
New Hebrides at the same time, and at these different 
gatherings we met many friends whose thoughts and 
prayers were sure to follow us to our far-off homes. 
After visiting Truro, Charlotte Town, St. John's, and 
Halifax, we spent the remainder of our time with Mrs. 
Robertson's and my own friends. I recall the sorrowful 


parting with my father ; how much we both felt it ? 
My mother had died shortly before, and the double 
grief seemed almost too much for him. After I had left 
him, I turned and saw him standing alone, and felt that 
I musl go back to say a last good-bye. I am always 
glad that I did so, for I never saw my father again. 
A few days later I said good-bye to a much-loved elder 
brother, one who had exercised a strong influence over 
me in my young life, and who had been adviser as well 
as companion and friend. He rejoiced in my decision 
to become a missionary, and to his loving words in 
parting added : " Many . . . have desired to see those 
things which ye see, and have not seen them ". While 
Mrs. Robertson was staying in Pictou and at Little 
Harbour, I left for Arichat, Cape Breton, to spend a 
day or two with another brother, whom I had not seen 
for eleven years, and his wife, whom I had never met. 
They were greatly disappointed that Mrs. Robertson 
had not come too, but felt with me that it would have 
been unkind to take her from her own family at that 
time. My short stay at Arichat was a very pleasant 
one. During that time we had a missionary meeting, 
presided over by the High Sheriff, a Roman Catholic 
and a very fine man. It was at Arichat, about two weeks 
after my own wedding, that I married a couple. The 
cousin of the bridegroom happened to be a fellow- 
student of mine, and, as neither the bride nor bride- 
groom belonged to the place and knew no clergyman, 
he suggested that I should marry them. 

The first of our " farewell " meetings was held at 
Charlotte Town, but I was absent ; for a storm arose, 
and boats could not cross the straits from Pictou, and 
so Mr. Murray was the only one of our party present. 
The next service was at New Glasgow — a fine meeting, 
and well attended. The Rev. Dr. Roy, who was then m 


very poor health, spoke at that meeting, although his 
friends were anxious lest he should over-exert himself. 
He gave us words that night that will always linger 
in our memory. In speaking to the three of us who 
were taking up mission-work, he urged that we be well 
prepared. " You want good constitutions and health 
to carry on your work, courage, perseverance and, above 
all, the grace of God in your hearts, young men." The 
following evening we met again at Truro ; Rev. Dr. 
M'Culloch presiding at the missionary service. A splendid 
address was given by Rev. Dr. M'Reagh, now Principal of 
Morin College, Quebec. Leaving Mrs. Robertson with Dr. 
and Mrs. M'Culloch in Truro, I went on to Halifax, to 
make all arrangements for our passage, and then returned 
for our final leave-taking. I cannot describe this ; the 
trial of saying good-bye was a real one to us both, and 
very specially so to my young wife, who was leaving 
father, mother, friends and home, for a far country and 
for strange and untried surroundings. A farewell 
meeting was held in Halifax, on 23rd October, the 
night before we left, in St. Matthew's Church, Dr. Grant 
then being the minister. The steamer should have been 
in that night, but did not appear till twelve o'clock the 
next day, sailing again an hour later. A number of 
friends came to see us off, among others a brother and 
a sister of Mrs. Copeland of Futuna. Two of Mrs. 
Robertson's brothers were also present, and the parting 
was a very painful one to them. Hearing that we were 
not leaving quite so soon as was at first expected, I 
followed one of them, as he was stepping on to the 
wharf, suggesting that they should return for a little. 
" No ; I have already said good-bye," he replied, " and 
could not bear to go back." Mrs. Robertson told me 
afterwards that, at one time, when she could scarcely 
restrain her feelings, a kind but injudicious lady came 


up to her saying, " And how do you feel now, my dear ? " 
Needless to say there was no answer. Just before the 
lines were cast off. Rev. Dr. Fraser Campbell gave out 
the hymn " B'cst be the tie that binds," and Dr. Grant 
commended us to God's loving care in a few earnest, 
heartfelt words. We silently shook hands with friends 
who were leaving the ship's deck, and we realised, as 
we were left alone and the Peruvian began to move 
slowly from her moorings, that we were leaving home, 
and that the dear faces that were fast disappearing from 
our sight might perhaps never be seen by us again. 

We had a pleasant run to Liverpool, and, as we were 
both good sailors, Mrs. Robertson and I were able to 
enjoy the sea trip. We made one very interesting 
acquaintance on the old Peruvian, an acquaintance that 
became a life-long friendship. On our second day out, 
a gentleman offered to take Mrs. Robertson for a walk 
on deck, and, when I thanked him for his kindness, I 
found that our new friend was Mr. Hugh Barnett, of 
Glasgow. As we, too, were bound for that city, we 
looked forward to a renewal of the acquaintance. How 
little we knew then what a friend he was to prove, both 
to ourselves and to our Erromangan people! While 
in Liverpool we made arrangements for our passage to 
Melbourne in the Great Britain, Captain Gray, R.N.R., 
and, as soon as that was secured, went on to Glasgow, 
Mr. and Mrs Mackenzie, Mr. and Mrs. Murray and our- 
selves putting up at the same hotel, the Waverley. 
Our hrst morning in Glasgow gave us some idea of a 
Scotch mist, unless the gloom was natural to the place. 
1 know that I was waiting in bed for daylight, for every- 
thing was as black as Egypt, thinking what strange 
people the Glasgow folk must be to have their milk- 
carts rattling along the streets at midnight. It might 
be all the same for me, because I could not sleep any- 


way ; but to think of other respectable and law-abiding 
people having their hard-earned rest disturbed by noises 
at such unearthly hours of the night! A loud rap at 
the room door startled me at this point. " There's a 
gentleman waiting downstairs to see you, sir ; he has 
been here for some time." Hurriedly strikmg a match, I 
glanced at my watch ; it was ten d clock. Dressing as 
quickly as possible, I found on going downstairs that 
our caller was Mr. Barnett, who, no doubt, was thinking, 
" What lazy people these Canadians are " ! With Mr. 
Barnett's help we found good lodgings that morning, 
and the same evening took dinner with Mr. and Mrs. 
Barnett and several friends, among them Mr. Thomas 
Binnie, treasurer of the New Hebrides Mission of the 
Reformed Presbyterian Church. We also met Mr. 
Robertson, head of the cotton company of which I 
had been agent on Aneityum some years previously. 
It would be impossible to say enough of the kindness of 
the Barnetts, or in how many ways they contrived to 
make our stay in Glasgow pleasant. 

We saw a good deal of the city, and intended to sail 
down the Clyde one morning, but, after leaving the 
house, found the weather too much for us. We had 
to think of some other outing, but Mr. Murray insisted 
that first we should return to the house and have prayers, 
and would not move a step until we did. We had no 
private sitting-room, so had to ask for one, and as the 
six of us filed in the other boarders got curious and 
crowded round. I believe they thought there was going 
to be a wedding. The amusing part of it was that 
Mr. Murray had forgotten all about prayers, until we 
found that a trip on the Clyde was impossible. After 
a short stay in Glasgow we went on to Edinburgh, where 
we spent a week. Whilst there I called one evening 
to see Dr. Duff, the great Indian missionary. I waited 


for a few minutes in his fine library, and then the 
Doctor came in with my card in his hand, walked over 
to the light that he might see my name, then turned, 
and with a warm grasp of the hand bade me welcome. 
He was tall and well-built, with prominent features ; 
the long white beard, iron-grey bristling hair, and 
shaggy eyebrows lent that appearance of strength and 
determination which so characterised the man. His was 
essentially a strong face. I had the rare privilege of 
listening to his graphic and thrilling accounts of his life- 
work in India, and his eyes filled with tenderness when 
he found that I had given myself to the missionary cause. 
He laid great stress on the importance of keeping in 
good health, for good work could not be done otherwise. 
" Do not make the mistake," he said, " of doing your 
travelling in the early morning ; there is far too much 
moisture then ; most people fall into that error ; do your 
journeying towards the middle of the day, and you will 
find that you keep in better health." 

In Glasgow, after hearing him speak in public, Mr. 
Murray, Mr. Mackenzie and I had called on Dr. Norman 
Macleod, and we enjoyed very much the short time 
spent in conversation with him. After one week in 
Edinburgh, a short stay was again made in Glasgow, 
and, as our time was now so very limited, we crowded 
as many meetings and visits into each day as we possibly 
could. Shortly before leaving, Mrs. Robertson and I 
decided to visit Blair Athol, the birthplace of my father's 
mother. How we enjoyed the drive in the early morn- 
ing across the battle-field there ! the rush of trains sweep- 
ing round hills and through valleys and over great iron 
bridges, and, above all, the grand and wonderful scenery 
of the Pass of Killiecrankie. 

On one of our last evenings in Glasgow a valedictory 
meeting, kindly arranged by the Committee of the 


Reformed Presbyterian Church, was held. Rev. Dr. 
Symington presided, and there were addresses from 
Prof. Binnie, Mr. Taylor, and Mr. Buchanan of Grey- 
friars Church, and lastly from Mr. Findlay. He was in 
very poor health, and his daughters begged him, before 
we reached the church, not to speak. But Mr. Findlay 
was not going to make any rash promises, and towards 
the close of the evening we heard that Mr. Binnie, the 
then secretary, was anxious for his predecessor in office 
to give the final address. I remember the quick, spirited 
speech ; his hands diving into the depths of a great 
pocket and out again, while he spoke to the people 
and then to us of the work which we were undertaking. 
He made mention of Mr. Barnett, the indefatigable 
friend who had done so much to make our stay pleasant, 
and who, though belonging to another branch of the 
Church — the United Presbyterian — had been one of the 
moving spirits in arranging this valedictory. Then, as 
Mr. Findlay went on to make reference to the Mission 
again and to our Saviour's words in sending forth His 
disciples, down went the hands into the capacious 
pockets. " When I sent you forth without purse and 
wallet and shoes, lacked ye anything ? . . . But now " 
(throwing three black purses on the table in front of us), 
" he that hath a purse, let him tak' it." In speaking of 
this valedictory, I would lay special stress on the fact 
that we were being shown this kindness by those who 
were comparative strangers. Mr. Murray, Mr. Mac- 
kenzie and I were all from the Canadian Church, and 
we had no claim whatever on our Scotch friends. Their 
kindness throughout our stay, and sympathy with us in 
our destined work, was a very pleasing feature of our 
visit to the great cities of Scotland. 

After a brief visit to London we returned to Liver- 
pool, and in December Mrs. Robertson and I, with Mr. 


and Mrs. Mackenzie, sailed for Australia in the Great 
Britain. Sad to relate, our last act in Liverpool was a 
" difference " with a cabman. We had hurried down to 
catch our steamer, had stepped out of the cab, and were 
walking briskly along when we heard a loud call from 
our cabby. Hey ! there's a square of glass broken in 
this window, and you will have to pay for it." " Rub- 
bish!" we retorted ; " we saw that broken glass when we 
got into the cab." "Oh, honour bright, gentlemen!" 
he replied ; " you broke the glass, and I must have the 
money." We were anxious to settle the matter and 
get to our boat. " Very well," said Mackenzie ; " you 
wait here, and when we come back we will pay you." 

That was Saturday night, and on Sunday we sailed, 
everything seeming to promise well. On Sunday night 
a fearful storm came on, and raged till morning ; but 
so steady was the ship throughout that some of the 
passengers knew nothing of it till all was over. The 
Great Britain, though only an auxiliary steamer, was 
at that time one of the best boats running between 
Liverpool and Melbourne. Speaking for ourselves, I 
must say that we have never travelled in a more comfort- 
able ship. Certainly we slept soundly enough through 
that storm. On our waking the next morning, every- 
thing seemed strangely still, and what was our surprise 
to find that we were at anchor off Holyhead! The 
captain had been obliged to run there for shelter. So 
disastrous had been the storm that a large white 
steamer that left Liverpool for Ireland an hour before 
us, with all her passengers and crew, was never heard 
of again. We made a fresh start the following day, 
and, as the bad weather still kept on, did not see Capt. 
Gray for two days. We could not have had a kinder or 
a more agreeable captain to travel with, and on that, 
his last trip, he seemed to outdo himself in seeing to the 


comfort and entertainment of his passengers. Mr. 
Mackenzie and I were standing on deck together when 
he first spoke to us. 

" Now, gentlemen," he said, " I hope we shall have a 
very pleasant voyage ; you are the only clergymen on 
board, I understand, but, as you know, this is an English 
ship and I myself conduct Episcopal service on Sundays. 
However, at any other time and on any day that you 
arrange a service, if the weather is fit, I am ready to give 
you every help." 

This was more than we expected, and we thanked the 
captain heartily. Mr. Mackenzie and I took turns in 
conducting Sunday services, and, ably helped by fellow 
passengers, both ladies and gentlemen, we used to have 
a Sunday school for the children. Bible classes were 
also well attended. The captain and his officers could 
not have been more courteous or helpful, and on all sides 
our way was made pleasant. There were many amuse- 
ments, too, and one very hot evening — too hot even 
for the usual dancing-parties — we arranged a lecture, 
the captain being chairman, while I gave a short account 
of the islands to which we were going. A very sad 
accident took place one day. Two apprentice boys had 
been told to go up and take in the " royals," and one of 
them, poor boy, was struck with the flap of the sail, and, 
losing his balance, fell backward from the dizzy height. 
" He was dead before he reached the deck," we were 
told by the doctor. This cast a great gloom over the 
ship, and Captain Gray felt it keenly. He had been 
thirty years at sea, and this was the first time that a life 
had been lost on his ship through accident. The boat- 
swain on board was the lad's stepfather, and, on the day 
of the funeral, the passengers, understanding that the 
family was poor, gave him a purse of money to take 
to the poor mother at hoice who would never see her 


boy again. What a shock a sudden and fatal accident 
Hke this gives, especially if it happens before one's eyes ! 
Our passage took sixty days, and we were fortunate 
in having fairly good weather throughout. We had 
been a month at sea when, one day as we were sitting 
at lunch, there was a great commotion on deck. We knew 
that it could be nothing unpleasant by the look of 
amusement on the captain's face, as he reached for his 
cap and hurried on deck. Of course the passengers 
did not take long to follow, and we found on arriving 
there a colony of strange faces and characters in pos- 
session. Two big London policemen, batons in hand, 
were walking with the utmost dignity, one on each side 
of a large, wooden horse, lifelike in its appearance, and 
gorgeously harnessed. Its rider was as grave as the 
guarding policemen, and took no notice whatever of the 
comments and criticisms made by the passengers. A 
band played, and everywhere were vendors, hurrying 
round with their wares, dressed in all kinds of curious 
costumes, and pressing us to buy. One man in par- 
ticular, in the character of an American quack doctor, 
ran a brisk trade. He had medicines by the dozen in 
bottles ; they would cure deafness, insanity, love, sea- 
sickness, every ailment under the sun. We bought the 
medicines, and laughed heartily at the directions written 
on the labels. I saw a black woman, the perfect image 
of an old Erromangan who had lived for some time on 
Aneityum, and pointed out the character to Mrs. Robert- 
son. There was the same little black head, and the 
bent figure hobbling along ; it seemed to be Navusia 
herself. By the time the vendors had disposed of most 
of their wares, and the different characters had paraded 
the deck, every one of them drew up in line and the 
closing event took place. The horse had been wheeled 
three times along the poop, and was now drawn up by 


blocks below the yard-arm and hooked to it by a ring 
in the saddle. As it hung in space, the rider deftly cut 
away the trappings, and the great horse fell with a 
tremendous thud into the sea, about sixty feet below. 
How those men cheered ! We were told that when 
leaving Liverpool they were advanced a month's wages, 
so that they were only this day starting to earn fresh 
wages, and the " dead horse " had to be cut adrift as 
they began the new month. They seemed to enjoy the 
entertainment themselves, and it certainly made good 
fun for the passengers. 

On reaching Melbourne, we found the Dayspring 
there, and heard that Mr. and Mrs. Murray were in 
Geelong. They had preceded us by another vessel. 
We went straight to Tancred's Hotel, in Latrobe Street, 
and, as an experienced man, I cautioned the ladies and 
Mr. Mackenzie not to eat heartily of fresh vegetables 
just after a long sea trip. The next morning I was 
the only one sick ! Captain Eraser was our first caller, 
and how glad I was to see him again. He had made his 
last trip to the islands, and now, much to the regret of 
the missionaries, was returning home. Later on in the 
morning, among others there came Mr. and Mrs. Inglis, 
of Aneityum, and the Rev. Mr. Robertson, of West 
Melbourne. During the remainder of our stay, Mr. and 
Mrs. Mackenzie were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. 
Robertson, while my wife and I made our home with 
our kind friends Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Smith, now of 

The heat in Melbourne was then overpowering. I 
had been twice up the country taking services ; the 
second time, I returned in the great heat after a hurried 
ride to the railway station, on an old horse, too, which 
would neither gee nor haw. I felt wretched when I 
reached Mr. Smith's house. I was very thirsty, but 


had only time to take a glass of water before hurr)'ing 
off to the Daysfring to see Captain Ray, who had 
taken Captain Eraser's place. As ill-luck would have 
it, he and the officers were just sitting down to lunch — 
fresh island pork — and I joined them. That was towards 
the end of the week, and on Saturday Lathella, the High 
Chief of Aneityum, who was again visiting Melbourne, 
came to see us, and, as he could not find his way back 
to the railway station, I went with him. I could not 
understand why I should be so thirsty, and I thought 
the great heat must be the cause of it. On Sunday 
evening I was to take a service at Carlton, and in the 
forenoon Mrs. Robertson and I proceeded to hear Rev. 
Dr. Menzies. We went early to get a good seat, and 
who should walk slowly up the pulpit stairs but our 
Mr. Inglis himself. His sermon, or rather address on his 
past missionary work was — well, not short, and though, 
ordinarily, it was a treat to me to listen to his carefully 
prepared words, I was not much in the mood that day 
for them. Everything was very true and very good, 
but I had heard it all before. That night my own 
address had to be considerably shortened, and about 
eleven o'clock Mr. Smith hurried off to get medical 
advice for me. Eor eleven days my life trembled in the 
balance ; it was dysentery in an acute form. By God's 
blessing on the skill and attention of Dr. Macmillan, 
the marvellous kindness of our host and hostess, and 
the loving solicitude of my own splendid nurse, my wife, 
I pulled through. It was Mrs. Robertson's first ex- 
perience in nursing, and her calmness and patience in 
caring for me were just what was needed. And she has 
often said that she could have done little without dear 
Mrs. Smith, and that never since she had left her mother 
had she felt so much at home as with her. Mr. and 


Mrs. Smith's kindness to us both at that time touched 
us very much. 

Poor Lathella was much distressed when he heard 
of my illness, and offered to help Mrs. Robertson in any 
way. She asked him to go with her to the Days-pring 
to see that our boxes were all put on board. It was 
Rev. Dr. Macdonald of Emerald Hill who brought my 
wife home again, and cheered us all by his brightness 
and sympathy. On Dr. Macmillan's last visit I tried, 
very feebly I am afraid, to express my gratitude for his 
constant care and kindness. When I asked him what 
was due to him for his medical attendance, he replied, 
" Nothing ; nothing, my friend. I only ask that you 
remember me when you kneel in prayer to the Great 
Physician above." 

The time had now come for sailing to our future 
home and work, and the little Dayspring had a large 
number of passengers — Mr. and Mrs. Inglis, Dr. Geddie, 
Miss Geddie and her sister, Mrs. Neilson, with her 
children, the Rev. D. Macdonald, who was the new 
missionary from Victoria, Mr. Fred. Campbell, of Gee- 
long, besides the three Canadians, Murray, Mackenzie 
and myself, with our wives. Last, but not least (I sup- 
pose it will be wise to say this), there was Master George 
Murray, aged three weeks. Miss Geddie was only 
going as far as to the Heads, but, Mr. Macdonald having 
persuaded her to go a little further, we knew, before 
we left Melbourne, that a wedding was to take place 
when Aneityum was reached. Dr. Geddie was in very 
poor health, seemed thoroughly worn out, but none of 
us thought how soon he was to be taken from us. It 
was hoped that the trip to the islands would renew his 
health. I need not enter into a description of our 
voyage ; with such a number of passengers we found it 


difficult to stow ourselves away, yet it was wonderful 
how comfortable the vessel was. She had a very cosy 
cabin, with deep lounges, and many a good rest have 
I had on them. 

We arrived at Aneityum on the first day of May, 1872 
— a lovely morning — and the newcomers enjoyed to the 
full the beautiful scenery of the harbour. And Aneit- 
yum had then, and still has, the old happy associations 
for me. Almost as soon as we cast anchor, Mr Under- 
wood's boat shot out from one of the little islands. He 
was soon on board, and Mr. and Mrs. Inglis were the 
first to meet him. In a second or two Mrs. Inglis turned 
to us ; we knew at once that there was bad news from 
her grief-stricken face. " TJte savages of Erromanga 
have killed James Gordon ! " What a terrible shock 
this was to us all ! poor, poor Gordon ! The news, 
coming so suddenly on our arrival, stunned us. We 
heard the full particulars of his tragic death later on. 
I had lost a very dear friend, one whom I had always 
loved and respected, and whom I fully expected to 
meet again on the islands. Soon after this news came, 
Mr. and Mrs. Inglis left in their boat for Aname. Just 
as they were going, I slipped a note into Mr. Inglis's 
hand, telling him that I would like to take Gordon's 
place on Erromanga, if he and the other missionaries 
were willing that I should settle there. 

That was on Wednesday, and on Saturday afternoon 
Mr, Macdonald and Miss Geddie were married in the old 
stone church at Anelcauhat, built by Dr. Geddie. Mr. 
Murray performed the ceremony, and a large crowd of 
spectators, white and black, thronged the building. Of 
course this was a specially interesting event to the 
people of the island. It was not the first wedding of 
white people there, for Mr. and Mrs. Copeland's had 
taken place some years previously, but Miss Geddie 


was island-born — the first white child born on Aneit- 
yum, and the people of Aneityum claimed her as their 
very own. We have often been struck with the hearty 
welcome that both Mrs. Neilson and Mrs. Macdonald 
always received when visiting Aneityum and seeing the 
old friends there. But, to return to the wedding, every- 
thing passed off well. In lieu of the wedding-cake 
there was a huge kalathakawan — a delicious native 
pudding — the dish of Aneityum. I can't answer for 
the others, but I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. 
Macdonald's " wedding-cake ". The Aneityumese can 
make good food. Mr. Cronstedt and Mr. Underwood 
were both invited, and were present. 

The following day Dr. Geddie conducted the native 
service, Mr. Macdonald preaching in English in the 
evening. Mr. and Mrs. Murray were now the mission- 
aries of Anelcauhat, and they at once took up their 
abode in the mission-house. Dr. Geddie had already 
resigned, and this was his farewell visit to the scene of 
his life-work. 1 

That night we again went on board the Dayspring, 
and on Monday morning sailed round to Aname. There 
we left Mrs. Mackenzie as Mrs. Inglis's guest till our 
return from the north. Our next stoppage was at 
Futuna. We reached the island early on Tuesday 
morning, and Rev. Mr. Copeland was soon on board, 
coming from the shore in a canoe. Just as our boat 
was leaving the side, she very nearly swamped, owing 
to so many canoes being fastened round the ship's 
quarter. The quickness and dexterity of the chief 
officer in cutting the painter alone prevented an accident. 
Mrs. Robertson had her first experience of savages at 
Futuna. But they did not seem to trouble her much 
with timidity. We struck on the reef going in, and 
Mrs. Robertson was one of the first to scramble into a 


canoe, wherein was a Futunese dandy attired in nothing 
but his birthday suit! Crowds of natives were on the 
shore, and we bought numbers of native curios. " Bring 
everything you buy up to the house, or you will never 
see them again," said Mr. Copeland in warning to us. 
Futuna itself is just a rock of the ocean, very precipitous 
and rising to a height of about 2,000 ft. The landing 
was near the mission-house, close by Copeland's Peak. 
The road up to it was very steep, skirting the brow of 
the hill. A person venturing a walk on Futuna needs 
to be very sure-footed. The Copelands' picturesque 
home soon came in sight ; it was the first house in the 
New Hebrides to have an upper storey. The roof was 
thatched, and the walls plastered inside and out. We 
were sorry to see Mrs. Copeland looking far from well. 
Notwithstanding her ill-health, she made our stay very 
pleasant, and a most enjoyable day was spent on shore. 
At Aniwa we received a warm welcome from Mr. and 
Mrs. Paton. Aniwa is a small coral island about six 
miles in length, its highest peak being a hundred feet 
above the level of the sea. There is no harbour or bay, 
but a boat-landing, which is good enough in ordinary 
weather. We passed up the broad, winding path, with 
tall cocoanut palms on either side, the long leaves 
^almost meeting above us, till we reached the house. 
It was like that of the Copelands, though much longer 
— the characteristic old, rambling island home, with low 
thatched roof. Mrs. Robertson and I were charmed 
with the garden ; the flowering shrubs, both English and 
native, were in such profusion. That was the first place 
I noticed a picket fence ; being painted white, it looked 
very well. Mr. Paton told me that the timber of it 
had been presented by Dr. Lang's congregation in 
Sydney. We could only stay a very short time on shore, 
and soon the Dayspring had left Aniwa, and we were 


on our way to Tanna. There, Kwamera was our first 
port of call, and the Rev. Mr. Watt soon came off in his 
boat. He kindly invited us all on shore, and we should 
have liked to go, but the captain was anxious to press 
on to Port Resolution of Tanna. In the morning we 
arrived there. Mr. Neilson looked very well, and in 
good spirits ; we were pleased to see him so cheery. 
His wife was on board with us, so that he was just as 
delighted to see us. Mrs. Neilson had told her sister, 
the bride, to stay in her cabin, and, after every one 
had been welcomed, she said to her husband : " Come 
downstairs, and let me introduce you to Mrs. Mac- 
donald ". Mr. Neilson followed her, looking very 
dignified, and whom did he see on reaching the saloon 
— he saw his own sister-in-law ! Mrs. Neilson enjoyed 
immensely the surprise she had planned for him. We 
all landed and had a delightful stay ashore. Mr. Neil- 
son had been very busy working at his new weather- 
boarded house, and had just finished it in time for Mrs. 
Neilson's return. He had covered with rOugh wood 
the ceiUng of the dining-room. He seemed rather 
pleased with himself about that room, and we were 
all brought in to admire it. But Mrs. Neilson gave the 
roof one glance, and " I will soon have those ugly 
boards out of that " was her comment. We went for a 
stroll along the beach, and visited the graves of Mrs. 
Paton and Mr. Johnston. There are some very pretty 
spots about Port Resolution, such as the flat-land on 
the brow of the hill overlooking the harbour. Mrs. 
Macdonald purposed to stay with her sister until the 
Daysprings return, so that when we left Port Resolu- 
tion Mrs. Robertson was the only lady on board. 

Our next call was at Black Beach. Dr. Geddie 
wanted to see a man named John Pata, who was living 
there. He was a Christian, having been converted by 


the Wesleyan missionaries in Fiji. As we pulled in to 
the shore, we caught sight of a number of natives, and 
one of them was waving to us. He soon jumped into 
the sea and swam off, and proved to be the very man 
that Dr. Geddie wanted. He told us that he had been 
trying to do his best to live a Christian life and to lead 
others to Jesus ; he had gathered the people together 
and prayed with them, and he was very eager to have 
a missionary. He was a bright, pleasant-looking man, 
and delighted us with his evident sincerity. Dr. Geddie 
promised that we should do our best to place a mis- 
sionary with them, and seemed very much cheered by 
this bright incident. 

It was Saturday evening when we left Black Beach, 
and on Sunday morning about nine o'clock we cast 
anchor in Dillon's Bay, Erromanga. We all went on 
shore in the ship's boat, and found the natives just 
coming out of church. There were very few of them ; 
poor people! they had had much to dishearten them, 
but had held firmly to their faith. We landed at the 
great banyan tree which overhangs the river at the 
spot where the old mission-house stood. Mrs. Robert- 
son sat down on a root of the tree, and the people came 
round and shook hands with us. Poor old Navusia, 
Yomot's wife, who could talk Aneityumese, tried to tell 
us of Mr. Gordon's death, and broke down, sobbing. 
" Ah, Mist," she said, " //zese people are heathen, 
heathen V^ Dr. Geddie spoke a few words, through an 
interpreter, to the Christian people around us. He 
asked them if they were able to hold fast to their faith. 
Kamfaneteme, ' we are able,' was the immediate reply. 
Neither my wife nor I was much taken with the place ; 
everything seemed so gloomy ; and, though the valley 
was looking its loveliest and the day was perfect, the 


horror of what had so shortly before taken place seemed 
to shut out all else. Poor, dear Gordon! 

We went off to the Dayspring, but soon landed again, 
this time on the south side of the river. Mr. Gray, 
one of the traders settled there, went with us to see 
the graves of Mr. and Mrs. George Gordon and Mr. 
Macnair. While the others went on up the bank of the 
river to see the rock on which Williams was measured 
(see Chap, iii.), my wife and I turned back and crossed 
the river again. We walked up to the church, and found 
the natives, perhaps forty of them, already there. Soso, 
Mr. Gordon's chief teacher, conducted the service, and 
all listened quietly and attentively. It was in an un- 
known tongue to two of us, but we felt the sacredness 
of the day and place, the service made doubly solemn 
by thoughts of the man who had brought these very 
worshippers to a knowledge of God and His love. In 
the evening we went back to the ship, and some native 
boys went off with us. I tried to talk to two of these 
little fellows, whose names, they said, were Nelat and 
Naiyup. These very boys, years after, became teachers, 
and were a great help to me in my work. Soso was 
also on board the Dayspring, and we all talked with 
him for some time. On the following day, early, we 
set sail for Efate, reaching Fila harbour about two 
o'clock on Tuesday morning. 

The next day we started on foot for Erakor. 
Captain Ray did not want Mrs. Robertson to go, was 
afraid she would be tired out, but she had already de- 
cided to go, and " when a woman says she will, she 
will ". The amusing part of it was that, when the poor 
captain was tired and almost done out, she was feeling 
as fresh as when we started. After the walk we were 
met by canoes and paddled up the lovely lagoon to 
Erakor. The scenery there is very beautiful ; there is 


something so picturesque about the clear, pale-green 
water, with masses of coral away down in its depths, 
the soft ripple of the canoe as it glides along 
to the tiny island of Erakor, with its glistening, sandy 
beach, and the background of cocoanut palms and dense 
vegetation on the mainland. We thought we had seen 
nothing prettier. The mission-house where Mr. and 
Mrs. Morrison had lived looked wonderfully neat and 
clean. We were at Havannah Harbour for a night 
and part of the following day, and on Wednesday after- 
noon left for Nguna, but too late to reach the island 
before dark. In trying to anchor, the vessel struck on 
a rock, but fortunately no damage was done. We landed 
at Nguna early in the morning, Mrs. Robertson with us. 
Mrs. Milne was on the shore to meet her. " When the 
natives told me that there was a lady in the boat, I 
could not stop in the house," she said. Our stay with 
Mr. and Mrs. Milne was all too short, and we were soon 
off again, and stood away for the small island of Emae 
or Two-Hills, where the Samoan teacher Ta was settled. 
He came to the ship in his canoe, but none of us went 
on shore. No other stoppage was made until we 
reached Cape Lisburn, on Santo, the station of Mr. 
Goodwill. Tongoa, Epi, Ambrim, Malekula, Malo, and 
all South Santo were without missionaries. What a 
contrast to things to-day! We spent both Sunday and 
Monday with the Goodwills, who, we were sorry to see, 
were in poor health. They had very little help, the 
people all around them being heathen. On Monday 
Mr. Goodwill's supplies were landed, and, as they in- 
tended not to come south with us to the Annual Meet- 
ing, we left them the following day. Four days later 
we reached Nguna, and, only stopping to take Mr. 
Milne on board, sailed for Mau. In the evening Mr. 
Milne, Mr. Mackenzie and I landed and walked to the 


village. The natives appeared very friendly, and pro- 
mised us land for a missionary. We went back tc 
the ship, well pleased with them. The next morning, 
when we saw them again, a change had come over 
them ; they kept away from us, looked sullen and 
treacherous, and would not hear of a missionary coming 
to them at all. Indeed, so threatening were they, that 
we thought it wise to be off to the boat as soon as 
possible. Evidently the Mau people were not anxious 
then to be taught better things. After taking Mrs. 
Milne on board, we touched at no island till Tanna 
was reached. Picking up Mr. Neilson, we sailed round 
to Weasisi on Tanna to see if there would be any 
opening there. Late that same afternoon we made 
Aniwa, and taking the Patons on board left for 
Kwamera. Mrs. Milne, Mrs. Paton and her children 
stayed with Mrs. Watt, while Mr. Watt came on with 
us to the meeting. Calling next at Futuna, we found 
that the Copelands were not coming, but Mr. Copeland 
asked that the Dayspring might be sent back after the 
meeting to take them to Aneityum. 

We were just four weeks away from Aname when 
we arrived there again on the second of Jime. I left 
Mrs. Robertson with Mrs. Inglis and Mrs. Mackenzie, 
and, picking up Mr. IngHs, we sailed for Anelcauhat. 
Just as we were leaving Aname, Mrs. Robertson turned 
to Mr. Watt, saying : " Be sure and don't settle us on 
Santo or Erromanga ". The settlement of the new 
missionaries was one of the most important matters to 
be discussed. Mr. Murray was already in charge of 
Anelcauhat. It was decided that Mr. Macdonald should 
open up the new field of Havannah Harbour, Mr. 
Mackenzie should take up the work on Erakor of Efate, 
while we were to come to Erromanga. Mrs. Robertson 
had the first news of this from a kind letter of Mr. 


Paton's sent overland. She told me that, after reading 
of our appointment to Erromanga, she went to her 
room and had a " good cry ". Mrs. Inglis, though sym- 
pathetic, could not understand such weakness. She 
asked what the trouble was. Mrs. Robertson sobbed, 
" I don't want to go to Erromanga ". " Don't want to 
go to Erromanga ! " said Mrs. Inglis ; " why, you could 
not have a better place ; there is a nice river, and you 
will be able to have a boat and keep cattle." But 
my wife had no thoughts for boat or cattle just then ; 
Erromanga, she told me, was the last place she wanted 
to go to. And who could wonder .? When her friends, 
and especially her mother, in Canada, heard of it, they 
were almost heart-broken, feeling sure that they would 
never see her again. But when it was fully settled 
that this island was to be our field of work, my wife 
was brave enough for even dark Erromanga. When 
the Copelands arrived at Aname, and Mrs. Copeland 
met Mrs. Robertson, she exclaimed : " Oh, why are you 
going to Erromanga ? can you not change even now } " 
Mr. Copeland told me that, had he been at the meeting, 
he would have strongly opposed our settlement. 

While at Aname my wife had her first experience of 
an earthquake. Mrs. Mackenzie was in one room, Mrs. 
Robertson in another, while Mrs. Inglis's bedroom was 
some distance away. In the night an uncanny shaking 
began, and Mrs. Robertson was terrified. Mrs. Inglis 
came to her door, and said, " If you are frightened, 
come into my room ". " Oh ! I am not at all frightened ; 
thank you," she replied, and then lay awake trembling 
till daylight. At the breakfast table the " earthquake " 
was, of course, the topic of conversation, and my wife 
was congratulated on her bravery. She bore the praise 
modestly, and casually asked Mrs. Mackenzie what kind 
of a night sAe had passed. Mrs. Mackenzie confessed 


to having been very much alarmed, and begged my wife 
to sleep with her that night. " Oh, certainly ! " Mrs. 
Robertson replied, and to Mrs. Mackenzie's expression 
of gratitude added, " Don't mention it ; / shall be only 
too pleased " ; which, when you come to think of it, 
was a very truthful statement. She had just been 
wondering how she was going to pass another night 

From Aname we went right to Kwamera, landing Mr. 
Watt and picking up the ladies who had been staying 
there. At Port Resolution, Dr. Geddie, Mr. Neilson, 
and Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie went on shore, while Mrs. 
Macdonald joined her husband on the Days-pring. At 
Aniwa we landed Mr. and Mrs. Paton, and then sailed 
for Erromanga. It was with mingled feelings that we 
looked forward to our arrival there ; we did not even 
know whether the people would have us among them. 
On Tuesday morning, the 25 th of June, we anchored in 
Dillon's Bay, Soso and Yomot soon coming off in a 
canoe. After breakfast we landed, and a meeting of 
the people was called. It seemed strange that Naling, 
the chief, kept out of our way ; he would not come 
near the missionaries. His conduct was afterwards ex- 
plained He wanted a missionary, but was afraid to 
take one lest he should not be able to protect him. 
" If a missionary comes here with me," he said, " and 
the heathen kill him, you will blame me for his death." 
Nothing was decided at the gathering of the people ; 
they would first think over it well, and Soso promised 
to come off to the ship that evening and let us know 
the result. Need I say how anxiously we awaited the 
news, nor how we prayed that God might show us all 
His will in this trying time. In the evening I heard 
the lop of paddles on the water, and soon the canoe 
was alongside. " Well, Soso, what have you to tell 


me?" I asked. " Vou may come." No protection, no 
help offered — for how could they in their weak state 
offer any ? — but we were thankful, indeed, to hear that 
we might only land. On Wednesday our fellow- 
passengers and ourselves went on shore, and a busy 
day was passed. Mr. Allan, a trader, and his wife 
were at that time occupying the mission-house, but very 
kindly at once gave it up to us. We all had lunch on 
shore, but went back to the ship in the evening, and 
slept on board. It was our last night with our friends ; 
to-morrow we were to be left alone. On Thursday 
morning Mr. Watt, Mr. Campbell, and the chief officer 
took Mrs. Robertson and myself on shore. The ship 
could not leave till the evening, but we were busy all 
day getting our " belongings " put to rights. This was 
the 28th of June, 1872. I remember so well the evening 
when the vessel left ; we were both feeling very lonely, 
and I strolled down to the shore to get my last sight of 
the little Dayspring. My heart was too full for words, 
and I am afraid I felt a queer lump in my throat as the 
white sails became smaller and smaller to view. Just 
then I heard a loud voice behind me, " Well ! ship he go 
Sandwich". This was Utevo, a young woman, who 
evidently thought I was in need of sympathy ; but not 
of that kind, I thought, and soon found my way back to 
the house. That night in that old house, alone on the 
martyr-isle, my wife and I knelt at our evening prayer, 
and the prayer was — *' Erromanga for Christ, and Christ 
for Erromanga ". 



Erromanga was now our home, and has been so for 
nearly thirty years. Almost at once we had to set to 
work. The old house, at a former time the property of 
Mr. Henry, a trader on the island, was sadly in need 
of repair. The day we landed. Rev. Mr. Watt, of Tanna, 
got some Ambrim men, who were returning to their 
own island, to whitewash the building. They did their 
best, poor fellows, but — oh, what whitewashing ! When 
the ship left us, we had to wash the whitewash from the 
floors. Mrs. Robertson worked hard at it for days. The 
first day, a little girl named Sampat, the daughter 
of an old chief of Cook's Bay, interested, I suppose, in 
the new arrivals, came round to give us the benefit of 
her presence and advice. She kindly offered to wash 
the floors. My wife accepted the offer, and expressed 
her gratitude. In a few seconds there was the sound 
of a loud splash, then another and another. Mrs. 
Robertson hurried to the scene of operations in time to 
see Sampat all in her glory, the floor deluged with water, 
the small lady herself busily wiping it up with her feet 
and an old cloth ! Mrs. Robertson explained to Sampat 
that although, no doubt, hers was a quicker and more 
graceful method of washing floors, it was not the usual 
one, and straightway set to work herself. Sampat soon 
learned to be a good worker, and lived with us for a 
number of years. Two other girls who helped my 



wife were Utevo and Nampunia. The latter was bright, 
obedient and willing, and had been working for Mr. 
Gordon at one time. It used to be somewhat amusing 
to notice how many claimed the honour of being his 
domestics. " Who helped Mr. Gordon and cooked for 
him .'' " " I did," would be the reply, no matter whom 
we addressed. " Who looked after his house and sewed 
his clothes ^ " we would ask, perhaps an old man this 
time. And " 1 did " would come the unhesitating 
answer. Utevo claimed to be " housekeeper ". " Do 
you say you cooked for Mr. Gordon, and looked after 
his house ? " said Mrs. Robertson. " Yes ; who else 
would have done it .? " " And where did he keep his 
food — the bread, sugar, milk and other things .? " 
" Oh ! in his bokis, ' box,' with his clothes," said Utevo. 
But I believe Nampunia really had worked for him ; 
she certainly did well when with us, and never left us. 
In July the Dayspring returned from the north, Mr. 
and Mrs. Watt and Mr. Campbell coming on shore to 
see us. When they left us, we did not expect to see 
missionaries again until December. Soon after that 
call, a small labour-vessel ^ arrived from Noumea, and 
two men — Numpurom, an Erromangan, and Watata, an 
Aneityumese — deserted from her in the night. They 
said they had been working for years and had received 
no payment. The following day, when the captain 
came on shore, they refused to go back, and he did not 
press them to do so. Watata, of his own accord, came 
to me, and helped me with my work. I asked him, in 
his own language, if he would like to engage as a ser- 
vant. " Yes, Misi," was the quick reply ; " but I do not 
want pay." " Oh, we'll see about that," I answered. I 
engaged him there and then, and later arranged to 
give him £6 a year as wages.^ For eighteen years 
Watata was with us, and through all our troubles and 

THE YEAR 1873 191 

difficulties proved a warm and faithful friend. Num- 
purom assisted at all my work of house-building. Mrs. 
Robertson engaged two cooks to work week about. 
Atnelo, a tall, slight lad of gentle disposition, of whom 
Mr. and Mrs. Macnair thought very highly, was one. We 
liked him, and found him a good worker, but he soon left 
us. A labour vessel came in one day. Atnelo cooked 
the bread, brought it in, and laid it on the table, and then 
left in the ship without a word to us. The other " cook," 
Woris Nemetangi, ' the wind,* was just a boy, tall and 
handsome, with bright, rolling eyes. He simply had 
no idea of work, and came to us more out of curiosity 
than anything else. Mrs. Robertson liked the boy, but 
he tried her sorely, and, that I might not be worried, 
she put up with him patiently and never spoke to me 
about his doings. It was wonderful to see how well he 
used to work when I came in sight ; I often was quite 
struck with the way he managed things, and told Mrs. 
Robertson she was fortunate, indeed, in having such a 
" treasure ". It was only after some time that I found 
that she was doing the work, and Woris giving a hand 
now and again. She would go to one door to call him, 
while he would slip out at the other door and amuse 
himself by beating on the wood-work with an old iron 
spoon. For an hour or so, Mrs. Robertson, heated 
and tired, would work in the kitchen, and then Woris, 
with his big, sparkling eyes, full of fun, would turn up 
for another " shy " at it. One day I took him into my 
room to talk seriously to him. I spoke in Erromangan, 
and in the middle of what I thought was a fine sentence, 
rating him sharply for his conduct, I, unfortunately, 
could not think of a word I wanted. Woris saw my 
difficulty, and promptly supplied me with the term. 
Now, who could scold a fellow who helps one out 
with the words } One day we heard piteous howling 


in the native premises. " What is that noise, Woris ? " 
we asked. Our cook replied,, with a grin : " Oh ! only 
Utevo ; she beat him small fellow boy ". The " small 
fellow boy " was Essa, the little daughter of Rangi, 
the Polynesian ; for Utevo was busily engaged in train- 
ing her up by the discipline of pain. 

Crowds of heathen came about us. That seemed to 
be the great feasting time, and it was a daily occurrence 
to see them passing on their way to the big nisekar 
or * feasts '. The men, hideous in paint, had absolutely 
no clothing, but the women — then, as they have always 
been on this island — were well dressed. Indeed, we 
think the Erromangan heathen woman's attire most 
picturesque, with her long skirts of gaily tinted materials 
and sweeping train, sometimes eight or nine feet long. 
A piece of native cloth, patterned and coloured, is 
brought over one shoulder and across under the other 
arm and tied in a knot at the back. No head-dress is 
worn, but often a string of beads is wound round the 
neck. A tall and good-looking woman in this costume 
looks truly regal. In those days their faces were tattooed 
and always painted, the cheeks black, the nose and 
sometimes the forehead a startling red. With their 
children strapped on their backs and great bundles of 
stick on their heads, they were generally in front on 
the march ; the men, carrying the great navilah or 
' sacred stones,' in the rear. When fording the river 
this order was reversed, the men taking the lead, hold- 
ing their clubs, bows and arrows high above the water, 
the great throng of women and girls following more 
slowly with their heavier burdens. Even the tiny girls 
of eight and nine years wore the sweeping skirts — the 
badge of the married or betrothed women ; poor little 
things! scarcely out of their babyhood, the wives of 
old wretches who might have been their grandfathers. 

THE YEAR 1873 I93 

I remember being struck, on my first visit to Erromanga, 
with the pecuhar appearance of the natives, their dark, 
receding eyes, projecting foreheads, and strange, sullen 
countenances, and I noticed the same thing now. We 
scarcely ever saw a heathen smile, and rarely would one 
speak to us. One seldom saw a really good face 
among them ; the men that passed us then on their 
feasting jaunts seemed a bad, treacherous lot. But in 
justice I ought to say that some of the heathen living 
near us were kind and peaceably inclined. Old Num- 
purom, the brother of Auwi-auwi, Williams's murderer, 
and a few others were always friendly. 

Sometimes a party would honour the mission-house 
with a call ; and what impudent callers they were ! They 
would sit on the chairs, sit on the table, sit on the 
beds ; and we had to put up with it all. They would 
examine and actually smell everything in the house. 
When a crowd of them, with their unwashed bodies 
and painted faces, crammed themselves into the rooms, 
by the time they had got fairly through them, we could 
scarcely stay in the house for the odour. The men 
all carried axes, and we could raise no objection. Some 
of them used to be really interested, others rushed 
through like great bullocks, seeing nothing and only 
going because others were going. They would never 
shake hands with us, and, in taking anything from us, 
would carefully place a leaf on their own hands, so 
that ours might not by any chance touch them. This 
was to prevent the possibihty of our "sorcery" taking 
effect on them. After a time, the heathen used to 
bring us yams, but they were generally from the feasting 
centres, and, having been tied up for months, were as 
dry as sticks. 

Exactly two months from the time of our settlement, 
H.M.S. Basilisk, commanded by Captain Moresby, 


came to anchor. The captain landed, and at once in- 
quired about the murder of Mr. Gordon. When I had 
told all that I knew, he saw it necessary to visit the 
scene of the murder, and asked me to accompany him. 
I answered that, if 'he insisted on it, I should be com- 
pelled to go, but it would be entirely against my wishes. 
I felt that, as a missionary, any action of mine in the 
matter at that time would be misunderstood, especially 
by the Erromangans. Thereupon Capt. Moresby kindly 
answered that he would not insist on my going. He 
wanted Naling, the chief of Dillon's Bay, and old Woris 
Nangeri, of Sufa, thought by some to have been an 
accomplice in the murder, to accompany him. The 
latter was unwilHng, afraid, I suppose, and the only 
way that he and Naling, too, could be prevailed upon 
to go was by promising them that no lives would be 
taken. Messrs. Gray and Smith, the traders, also went 
by the Basilisk^ which at once left for the east side of 
the island. On his return, Captain Moresby remarked 
that he regretted his promise, such was the insolence 
and bold appearance of the natives. There was an 
entire absence of remorse, and in its place a fiendish 
exultation over the deed of blood. He said that had 
he not promised the two chiefs to punish no one, he 
would have given the tribe such a warning as they would 
never forget. A number of marines were landed, but 
nothing seemed to intimidate the hardened wretches. 
The captain had all Gordon's books (some of them torn 
from their bindings, and pages scattered everywhere) 
packed and brought round to Dillon's Bay. Two of the 
books were stained with blood. They were all sold 
here by auction, the Basilisk officers buying some, 
Gray and Smith others, and I also getting a few. They 
realised fourteen pounds altogether. 

One afternoon in August I did not go down as usual 

THE YEAR 1873 I95 

to my building. We had decided to erect a new house 
as soon as possible nearer the shore, the old mission- 
house being unhealthy. I was at the end of the 
house near the garden making a towel-rack, and Mrs. 
Robertson was sitting inside sewing, little Sampat with 
her. Two middle-aged men, naked, each carrying an 
iron bar about two feet long, appeared on the scene, 
laid the bars down at the door, and came right into the 
house. We did not know who they were, but gave the 
Erromangan salutation. They made no reply. Mrs. 
Robertson then asked them : " Who are you ? Are you 
from Cook's Bay ? " and to that they answered, " Yes ". 
The Cook's Bay people were almost our only friends, 
so that we felt perfectly safe when we heard that. In 
a second or two, we noticed little Sampat looking 
frightened and crouching behind Mrs. Robertson's 
chair. My wife said, " Come, Sampat ; why don't you 
shake hands with your friends .' " But the girl would 
not move. I spoke to the men, and, thinking they had 
come to inspect our house, began to show them some 
pictures ; but they seemed to take no interest in any- 
thing ; so I began my work again at the open door. 
One man at once slipped out, and getting his iron bar 
came and stood beside me, while his friend also lifted 
his bar from the ground ; but, never suspecting anything, 
I went on talking to them. Just then Netai, accom- 
panied by Novolu, came rushing along and pushed their 
way into the room, both very much excited. Novolu 
turned and actually stormed at me in Aneityumese : 
" Who are these men, Misi ? Why do you allow them 
to be in your house ? " I answered in English : " These 
are friends from Cook's Bay". Then Netai„ his voice 
trembling with excitement, said to me : " No, Misi •, he 
no Cook's Bay man ; he bad man, Unepang man ". The 
strangers at once slipped out and slunk away, my man in 


his hurry dropping his bar, and we never saw either of 
them again. Netai seemed terribly upset ; he had got 
warning from some one that these men were in our 
house, and, taking Novolu, who could talk Aneityumese, 
ran at once to our help. There could be no doubt that 
the intention of the strangers was to brain us both, 
for the people of Unepang were the sworn enemies of 
the Christian party. Since Yomot had killed the young 
chief, in revenge for Mr. Gordon's death, there had been 
a deadly feud ; the very name " Unepang " was enough 
to strike terror into the hearts of our people. 

When the Basilisk left us,, we were busy preparing 
for a boat trip to Aniwa. I built an awning over the 
Yarra-Yarra, Mr. Macnair's lifeboat, and everything was 
being got ready for a start. One day we were sur- 
prised to see a vessel like the Days-pring herself. We 
could not understand it, as we thought her long ago 
on her way to Melbourne. The visit was soon ex- 
plained when Mr. Neilson and Captain Ray came on 
shore. The Dayspring had taken Mr. and Mrs. Mac- 
kenzie from Tanna to their own station at Erakor, and 
on leaving there Dr. Geddie, though himself in broken 
health and very weak, thought of us on lonely Erro- 
manga, and suggested that they should give us a call. 
The kindly act touched us very much. Dr. Geddie did 
not land, but Mrs. Robertson and I went off to the ship 
and said good-bye to him. It was our last sight of 
the " Father of the Mission," for on the 14th of Decem- 
ber of that year, 1 872, at Geelong, in Victoria, he passed 
away to his eternal home. Mr. Neilson wrote and gave 
us a hurried note to his wife, hoping that there might 
be a chance to send it from our place at Dillon's Bay 
to Port Resolution. He strongly disapproved of our 
proposed sea trip. " Don't go," he said to me ; " you 
will only drown your wife and yourself." However, our 

THE YEAR 1873 I97 

minds were made up. We were rather short of food, 
and besides that, wanted the cheer of a visit to friends. 
The Yarra- Yarra was an excellent lifeboat, with a 
35-ft. keel ; had been built in Melbourne, and presented 
to Mr. Macnair for his work. He, poor man, had never 
used it, but it was in the Yarra- Yarra that, after her 
husband's death, Mrs. Macnair and her child were taken 
away from Erromanga. We passed out of the river at 
two o'clock one morning, there was a fine breeze from 
the west, and it looked as if we were going to have a 
quick run to Aniwa. We had a picked crew of twelve 
men and boys, and I myself steered. We went scudding 
along until we reached Bunkil, ten miles south of 
Dillon's Bay. Then we saw what we were to have. A 
tremendous sea struck us and carried away our steering 
gear ; fortunately the ruddet was securely fastened. 
I had providentially taken nails, screw-driver, brace- 
and-bit, and a hammer, and was able to fix the upper 
pintle. We then took off the stroke oar and made it 
into a steer oar, but it was much too short ; so rudder 
and oar were both used. I tried to turn the boat, but 
could not do so ; our only hope was to run before the 
gale. To land at that part of the island, even if it had 
been possible, would have meant certain death. The 
boys were baling constantly, and we still thought that 
we might make Aniwa by four or five o'clock that after- 

The storm increased hour by hour, and I had to take 
down the jib and run with a reefed foresail. The young 
men got frightened, but Naling, Numpurom and Watata 
behaved splendidly, and kept their courage up. We 
were making heavy weather then, the rain dashing in 
torrents, and the waves — not sprays, but great, green 
:eas — running. The good old Yarra-Yarra sped like 
a flying fury before the storm. I had soon to take off 


all sail, and keep her going with a large ' butcher ' knife 
stuck in the mast. Four of us took turns in steering. 
Mrs. Robertson lay in the stem-sheets of the boat, the 
waves dashing right over her. We could have landed 
without much difficulty at Ifwa on the south coast of 
Erromanga, but we durst not ; for we knew what our 
fate would be. After fourteen hours — hours in which 
we seemed to live a lifetime — Netai pointed to where 
Aniwa should be, and on looking at my pocket compass 
I saw he was right. Soon we caught sight of the tops 
of trees, and before sundown got right up to Mr. 
Paton's landing. But in that great boiling sea landing 
was impossible. The men had become so fagged and 
frightened that they said : " Misi, let us rush the boat 
ashore ". " AH very well for you fellows," I said ; 
" though I don't think even you good swimmers would 
have much chance of reaching the shore ; but what 
about my wife and myself .-' " 

The boat settled down on the reef, but we managed 
to get her off, and, working round to the lee of the 
island, found anchorage. After some time there, every- 
thing seemed so quiet and calm that we thought we 
would venture a return and make a landing, if possible. 
With six men at the oars we pulled round again to the 
weather side. But it was blowing half a hurricane ; 
we could not even look at it. To make matters worse, 
we could not find our old anchorage, and there was 
nothing for it but to keep on our oars. We now and 
again saw the flames from the Tanna volcano. We 
dodged about until two o'clock in the morning, and by 
that time the men were thoroughly exhausted. I de- 
cided that they must have rest. So we got the halyards 
that I had brought with me, and fastened them to the 
anchor. Atnelo went forward and paid out, till at last 
the anchor caught in the reef, and we made the rope 

THE YEAR 1873 I99 

fast. "Now, boys," I said, "you can go to sleep". I 
did not need to tell them a second time. Mrs. Robert- 
son raised her hand and caught mine ; hers was as cold 
as ice. " Could you not sleep, too ? " she asked. " My 
dear," I said, " it came very near being a long sleep ". 
" I knew it," she replied. And yet never once in 
those awful twenty-four hours had she uttered a word 
of fear, but had kept calm from beginning to end, 
though the drenching waves were sweeping over her 
where she lay. We had a word of prayer together, 
and then, some time later, roused the men. We had 
put tubs of sand in the Yarra- Yarra before we left 
Dillon's Bay, and now made a hot cup of coffee for all 
hands. They were feeling strengthened after their 
rest, and I said : " Now, men, I'll give you two bright 
sovereigns if you will do your best to land my wife and 
myself at Mr. Paton's by eight o'clock". It was then 
six. Though the wind had gone down, a heavy sea was 
running. We put two men at each oar ; they strained 
their utmost and did splendidly, like the plucky fellows 
they were. Just about eight o'clock we rushed right in to 
the landing, and a crowd of natives ran the boat up with 
us in her. When Mrs. Robertson stepped on shore she 
was trembling like a leaf ; a day and a night at sea in a 
hurricane was enough to make the strongest collapse. 
Mr. Paton came hurrying down, and, meeting her, could 
scarcely be persuaded that all was well. He feared that 
I had been killed, and that my wife had fled to them 
for safety. Mrs. Paton at once made us hot drinks, 
and then took us to a substantial breakfast. The warm 
reception from them both almost made us forget the 
troubles of the day and night before. Breakfast over, 
we went straight to bed, and I know that to me it seemed 
not more than a few minutes before the dinner-bell 
rang. We spent ten days at Aniwa, and what kindness 


we received from Mr. and Mrs. Paton! The natives, 
too, seemed specially thoughtful, and our stay was 
pleasant in every way. On Sunday we all attended the 
services. In the morning, Mr. Paton preached what 
was, I suppose, an eloquent sermon, as he was busy 
flying from one end of the pulpit to the other all the 
time. In the afternoon I addressed the people, Mr. 
Paton translating. 

The children of the family were all at home then. 
One day Mrs. Robertson and I got Frank, the baby, 
dressed up in a suit of my clothes ; we cut a huge 
clerical collar out of paper, and tied a white necktie 
round his neck. He looked so solemn over it all that 
we could scarcely restrain ourselves from laughing, and 
were afraid that he might object. However, he only 
gave us a look of mingled pity and contempt, and 
allowed us to go on rolling up the trouser legs till 
they came somewhere near his feet. Having placed a 
pair of spectacles on his nose, and seated him in a 
chair, studying a paper, one leg thrown over the other, 
we sent for Mr. Paton, telling him that a "young mis- 
sionary" was in the house, and would like to meet him. 
When his father came running in from his work, the 
dignified " missionary " looked at him over his glasses, 
and without a smile on his face, and seemed to thor- 
oughly understand what an important personage he 
was, particularly in the eyes of the missionary of Aniwa. 
In 1896, the Rev. Frank Paton was settled among the 
heathen of Lenakel of Tanna ; so were not very far 
wrong that day after all. 

On the morning that we left Aniwa — ten o'clock was 
the hour — Mr. and Mrs. Paton climbed the hill near the 
mission-house, and watched us till we were out of sight. 
There was a strong current from the east and the wind 
was blowing rather hard, but I kept the Yarra- Yarra 

THE YEAR 1873 201 

well up to the wind. We ran to Bunkil Bay, a distance 
of thirty-five miles from Aniwa, and then lost the wind. 
The men took the oars, and by ten o'clock that night we 
were safe in our house at Dillon's Bay. The natives, even 
the half-heathen, fairly cried over our return, for they 
never expected to see us again. 

Mr. Paton had, some months before this, been ap- 
pointed to help me with the building of my house. 
But the late return of the Dayspring from Melbourne 
had made that impossible. The vessel did not arrive 
here till November, with Captain Jenkins in command. 
Mrs. Jenkins was on board ; also Mr. Paton and his 
two boys, Robert and Fred. They all landed for a 
short time, and Mrs. Robertson and I, when the ship 
had again left us, set to work to enjoy the contents of a 
large mail-bag. By the time the Dayspring returned 
from the north in December, the foundation of our 
house was already laid. Much to my regret at the time, 
a box that I had packed for Mr. Gordon's friends in 
Prince Edward Island, containing interesting mementoes 
of the martyr, was forgotten when the boat left the 
shore. It was just as well, for the Dayspring never 
reached Sydney. Instead of the house that I had 
ordered, there had been landed enough timber for 
two small rooms and a verandah. The foundation was 
fifty feet long by sixteen feet wide, and I was deter- 
mined to build the house that size in any circumstances. 
Fortunately, I had a lot of rough timber that Lathella 
had cut and sold to me, and some that I had bought 
at Anauansi from Mr. Cronstedt. The natives helped 
me manfully, and some of our strongest men used to go 
miles in the bush for good timber, and would often be 
away for two or three days. We put up a rough 
shed, and there framed the building, fifty feet by six- 
teen feet, and a verandah six feet wide all round. 


We had to be very careful, too, for there were many 
black birds of plunder always hanging round, and tools 
and nails would disappear with unexpected rapidity. 
While a man would be talking to one of us with a most 
guileless smile on his face, he would at the same time 
be busily picking up fallen nails with his toes,^ and pass- 
ing them, in the same way, to a fellow thief. And these 
were not the worst things that we had to deal with ; 
we had to beware of savage heathen, who might at any 
moment choose to do us injury ; and so my men worked 
with their guns strapped to their bodies, and were 
always on their guard. We had the whole building 
up at the end of December, and all ready for thatching. 
The heathen had sold us great quantities of sugar-cane 
leaf for that purpose. We thought our work would 
soon be completed. But my poor house was doomed. 
On the night of Sunday, the 6th of January, came the 
dreadful hurricane which wrecked the Dayspring on 
Aneityum. It commenced to blow in the afternoon, and 
after service we went down and put more braces to the 
new building. The storm increased during the evening 
until, at midnight, it was of terrific force. Great trees 
near the old house were hurled to the ground, and the 
natives, in terror, left their huts and gathered round 
us. Some were afraid to be near any building or trees 
and were standing in the pouring rain in an open square 
— the only safe spot, they affirmed. It blew until nearly 
daylight, when the wind went round to the west, 
although it still kept up its fury. The rain — a hurricane 
rain, cold and blinding — came down in torrents, and the 
river began to rise, and with the shaking and rattling 
of the iron roof above us, and the howling of the wind 
outside, we had enough to keep us on the alert. We 
both felt sure that our new house would be in ruins. 
In the early morning, after seeing that everything was 

THE YEAR 1873 203 

secure, we lay down until daylight. Mrs. Robertson 
slipped out quietly to bake bread, and later on brought 
me a glass of milk. " Well ! is the house down ? " I 
asked. " Yes," she replied ; " Soso, poor man, came and 
told me just now, ' Misis pau, "dear mistress," the house 
is down '. I felt more for him than for the loss of the 
house, he looked so very woe-begone." 

What a scene of desolation met me when I reached 
the spot ! Every post was broken, and the whole build- 
ing lay smashed against the trees that were still left 
standing. Even in the midst of the ruin, I could not 
help being amused at the easy way one of the boys 
was takmg matters. An old iron tank had been carried 
in the storm right across the river, and thrown against 
a great neblible tree. Abel was sitting on it, thumping 
his feet against the sides and singing his loudest in 
Aneityumese ; he seemed perfectly satisfied with himself 
and everything else, hurricane included ! 

Mrs. Robertson persuaded me not to think of rebuild- 
ing until I had more help, especially as the hottest part 
of the season was nearly over. So I told Watata and 
Abel that they could go on drawing the nails from the 
broken timber, select the best pieces, and store them 
in the shed. I was pleased with the care they took 
of everything ; I am quite sure I could not have shown 
the patience that they did in overhauling all that broken 

The natives had warned us not to open our doors at 
night, on any account, in case of attack from the heathen. 
We arranged a sign — three sharp raps — and to this only 
were we to open. One night we heard this rap, but 
before opening I said, " Who is there ? " " It is I, 
Naling," came the reply. 

I at once brought him in, though surprised at his visit ; 
for of late, somehow, the chief had not been acting 


in a kindly way towards us. Not that he had opposed 
the work, far from it, but he had not given us the help 
and sympathy that we expected from him. He was 
evidently sorry for his conduct, and had come now to 
say that if I would begin to build again, he, with his 
half-brother, Numpurom, and Nauvi, were ready to give 
me help in any way. " Is this true, Naling ? Will you 
keep to your word ? " I asked, and he replied that they 

So we began work again. As we could not be in 
the house before the winter months, I resolved to build 
more carefully, and to add a verandah. Yomot, with 
some of the young men, went into the bush to cut poles 
for this purpose. It was a very hot and very wet season, 
and after the showers the sun would pour down his 
rays on us again as steamingly as before ; and so we 
worked under difficulties. Sometimes Mrs. Robertson 
would bring my meals down to me, when there was extra 
work. This was often the case, and then she had to 
walk on the rough boulders along the shore as there 
was no other road. The days were very lonely for her, 
and in the afternoons, when the people were all away, 
the place seemed almost gloomy, so that she would 
often stroll down and look on as we framed the build- 

Now, besides the daily school which Soso conducted, 
we had classes every night for the few who would come 
to us. We taught them reading and writing, and, though 
we were still novices in the language and had often to 
speak through interpreters, we managed fairly well. 
My knowledge of Aneityumese served me in good stead. 
And in addition to Soso's school in the old, lime-built 
church, he had a class for instructing candidates for 
baptism. On Wednesdays we held our prayer-meeting, 
which was well attended. Mrs. Robertson, in the damp 

THE YEAR 1873 205 

place in which we were then living, suffered very much 
from fever, and was getting weaker every day, and, as 
her time of trouble was drawing on, I feared she would 
never get over it. She became so much worse one 
night that I roused the men and asked them to go in 
the Yarra-Yarra for Mr. and Mrs. Allen. They were 
then at Elizabeth Bay. Once when Mrs. Robertson was 
scarcely conscious, I sent for Ohai, one of our helpers. 
I said to her as she entered the room : " Ohai, have 
you ever seen any one as ill as my wife is .? " In a loud 
voice she replied, " Yes, often ; and they all died ! " I 
soon showed her the way out of the room, for that was 
a poor kind of comfort. The next morning Mr. and 
Mrs. Allen arrived. Mrs. Allen was most kind and 
attentive, and it was a great comfort to have her with 
us. My wife got no better, and on the i8th our child 
was born — dead. For hours her life trembled in the 
balance, and it was not until the next day that there 
seemed any improvement. Mr. and Mrs. Allen had 
gone home, but intended to return, and the natives 
were very sympathetic ; they could not have been more 
so. On account of the heathen it was not safe for us 
to go to the graveyard by day. So we waited till night, 
when Soso and I crossed the river in a canoe, and in the 
darkness I buried our little child in its tiny grave, just 
at the feet of the martyred Gordons. Mrs. Robertson 
began slowly to improve. How thankful I was that my 
dear wife had been spared ! neither she nor I expected 
it. Soso had gathered the natives together, and they 
were praying for her. When she began to improve, I 
went in among them and said, " Why ! Soso ; Mrs. 
Robertson is better ". " Of course, Misi," he said ; 
"have we not asked God to make her well?" He 
seemed surprised at my want of faith. Mr. and Mrs. 
Allen soon returned, and were very kind. Poor Mrs. 


Allen herself took ill, later on, though she soon became 
better. We felt very grateful to them both. They 
returned to Elizabeth Bay in the Y arra-Y arra, and in 
a few weeks we visited them there, Mrs. Robertson 
walking up the steep hill from the boat without any help. 
I now hurried on with the new house. I saw that 
my wife would never be well while we were in the old, 
damp one. The two men of Aneityum were my prin- 
cipal helps at the building. The Erromangans procured 
all the timber, Yomot especially being an invaluable 
hand to go into the bush for it. I remember well the 
day we first raised the building ; the natives were greatly 
interested, and helped eagerly, bracing it roughly for 
that night. By the middle of April the building — 62 ft. 
by 28 ft., including a verandah 6 ft. wide — was finished, 
as far as could be done just then ; the front of the 
house was all weather-boarded, and two rooms plastered 
inside and finished completely. It took an enormous 
amount of thatching ; when our supply of sugar-cane 
leaf failed, I said to Yomot that we would finish the rest 
with denyung, ' reeds '. But Yomot shook his head ; 
" No ; we are not going to have our Misi's house badly 
thatched." He started away, roused the young men, 
and off they went to Rampun-tomasi, a district to the 
south of us, bringing back huge bundles of sugar-cane 
leaf. Yomot worked splendidly. The site of the house 
had been nothing but a bed of stones ; the south end of 
the building was 7 ft. above the ground, while the 
north was 2 ft. below it. We floored part of the front ver- 
andah, and, when everything was done as far as we had 
material to work upon, we prepared to have the " house- 
warming ". Watata and Abel cooked great pots of rice 
all day, and made tea. In the afternoon Mrs. Robertson 
was carried down from the old mission-house, and the 
natives all followed. On arriving, I asked Soso, on 

THE YEAR 1873 207 

behalf of my wife and myself, to thank the people for 
all the hearty help they had given us from the time 
we began building until that day. The men then carried 
round the food, which young and old seemed to thor- 
oughly appreciate. We felt glad and truly thankful 
to be in our new home ; a happy one it has been to us 
during our long years on Erromanga. Before the 
people left us, we had a hymn and prayer, and then all 
separated for the night ; they had worked well, and saw 
that we were grateful. From that day Mrs. Robertson's 
health began to improve ; the new house was very 
healthy, and we looked forward to being able to com- 
plete it in a few months. 

We had not been long in it, when, one afternoon, a 
white boat shot into the river. 1 was a little startled 
at first, thinking she looked like a mission-boat. The 
man in her turned out to be Charlie, a Sandwich 
Islander, who was trading on Erromanga. A vessel of 
Captain Macleod's had been to his place in Elizabeth 
Bay, and had left word that the Dayspring had been 
wrecked off Aneityum, during the hurricane in January. 
Mrs. Robertson went away to get our visitor some re- 
freshment, and Charlie and I sat in our little sitting- 
room. He looked all over the room and up to the 
ceiling, then said to me : " Did you build this house, 
Mr. Robertson .? " I told him I had built it. " What a 
magnificent house," he said ; " dear, dear, dear me ! 
What a splendid house ! " Then after a few seconds : 
" Well, you know, this is a pretty good house ! " Our 
kitchen was then apart from the house, and I built a 
roofed covering for Mrs. Robertson to pass under 
on her way to it in case of rain. But we were never 
satisfied until we had our kitchen actually in the house. 
In rainy weather, the natives would all crowd in by the 
stove until there was scarcely room to turn one's self. 


In the unfinished rooms we used often to keep food, 
especially meat. I remember one night when Mrs. 
Robertson put a nice piece of pork in one of the rooms, 
and carefully covered the pan. In the morning, pork 
and pan had disappeared, and the pan was not found 
till several days had passed. It turned up at last near 
the schoolhouse, a good distance away, but the pork 
was never heard of again. The Erromangan dogs had 
been enjoying our dainties. In crossing the unfinished 
rooms, my wife had to step from one beam to another ; 
but we were glad to put up with these discomforts when 
we were so comfortably settled in our other two rooms. 
We could scarcely get any fresh food from the people, 
though we offered good prices. One day Yomot shot 
a pair of pigeons, and made us a present of them. At- 
nelo, who was cook at the time, cleaned them and put 
them in the pantry. In a little he came with a most 
rueful face to tell us, " The cat had eaten the pigeons ". 
However, he would soon fix that ; we should have a treat 
that day. He returned shortly with a fine old rooster, 
who looked as if he had been round the Horn with 
Captain Cook. We heard the pedigree of this wonderful 
fowl before we sat down to eat it. It seemed that 
Atnelo's mother had received it as a present from an- 
other old woman, who, in her turn, had reared it up from 
its infancy. The two had been companions for years, 
and it was only the stress of circumstances that had 
led to the parting. Atnelo said it was a fan fowl. In 
Erromangan fan means something far above the usual 
run. I will not say what we thought of that rooster ; 
some things are better left unsaid. He had probably 
been a bit of an athlete in his young days. I know this, 
that we rose from the table feeling that we had done a 
hard day's work, and that there were twice as many 
bones on our plates as when we began the meal. 

THE YEAR 1873 209 

From the heathen, on their way to and from feasts, 
we were sometimes able to buy food. To us, then, they 
all seemed very black ; we could not tell one face from 
another. Sometimes a party of them would come to us 
and say, " We want to go to school and church, but we 
have no nemas, ' clothes '." Eager to get them to join 
us, we would give each man a shirt and netoitingi, ' lava- 
lava ' or loin-cloth. Very soon the same lot would turn 
up again, stark naked, had no nemas, but would like to 
get some in order that they might attend church and 
school. We did not know them from one another ; so 
Mrs. Robertson and I would give them another new 
set of clothes. Our Christian people had a great laugh 
at our expense, when they found out how we were being 
" taken in " by the Erromangan thieves. When we were 
in the old house, Mrs. Robertson did most of the yam- 
buying, Woris Nemetangi standing beside her all the 
time. The Dillon's Bay people used to beg us to buy 
whatever the heathen brought, and to get them out of 
the valley before night, for those were the days when 
the Erromangan Christians had to " fear God and keep 
their powder dry ". One day, when we were buying food 
from a number of women, a man darted out from the 
orange-grove in our garden, where he must have been 
hiding, and seized a girl's hand. Before anything could 
be done, he dragged her to the river bank, and began 
to cross it. We were helpless, for he was armed, and 
when I would have interfered he waved me back, saying : 
" Leave us alone ! this is our affair ". It was low tide, 
and every now and again the poor girl would sit down 
on a fish-dyke that had been built across. But a knock 
from the butt end of her captor's gun would soon make 
her rise again and hurry across with him. 

Towards the end of 1872 we observed the Sacra- 
ment of the Lord's Supper, when a few new members 


were added, and among them our faithful Yomot. In 
all, twelve of us sat down to that solemn feast in the 
old, lime-built church erected by the last of the Gordons. 
Soso was settled at Rampun-tomasi soon afterwards ; 
the people received him willingly enough, but in a 
fortnight sent him home again ; they were tired of the 
Gospel. Soon, however, I had three teachers settled out. 
It was not safe to go beyond seven miles south or 
ten miles north of us ; we could land at Elizabeth Bay 
and Sufa, a village near Dillon's Bay, but one of the 
worst and most dangerous places was right in our bay, 
at a little spot called Raumpong and at the southern 
point. On Sundays we divided our company. Leaving 
some of the strong men with my wife, I would take 
others, and, with them, visit the villages in and about 
the valley, often going up on the hill-land to the north 
of our house. The httle village of Ari was a favourite 
resort for us ; for the young chief and sometimes others 
always came to the services. We used to take advantage 
of the feasting season to see all the strangers, and 
would cross the river and walk as far as the " forks," 
where the people often gathered. It was quite a 
common thing to see them all disappearing, as if by 
magic, as soon as I came in sight. If we came upon 
them unawares, we sometimes succeeded in persuading 
one or two to stop ; they listened attentively and seemed 
to enjoy hearing us sing, but as soon as we began to 
pray they would run away. By the time the prayer was 
over, there was no one to be seen. Places to which we 
dared not go overland could sometimes be visited by 

As soon as we were in our new home we were able to 
give ourselves more to teaching, and every afternoon 
was occupied with classes. Mrs. Robertson taught some 
of the young girls, and also several bright little boys, 

THE YEAR 1873 ^ 211 

on our back verandah. But the Uttle boys were very 
rarely allowed to come, so that they did not learn to read 
as quickly as she hoped they would. My school was 
conducted in the grass church up the valley, and on the 
whole it was very well attended. 

As I have already mentioned, we heard from " Charlie," 
the islander from Efate, of the wreck of the Dayspring 
in January. After being a month at Anelcauhat, the 
ship-wrecked people had been taken by another vessel 
to Noumea, from whence they reached Sydney. We 
felt sure that some ship would soon come in the Day- 
springs place. One afternoon, the 15th of June, I was 
in school when Mrs. Robertson passed on her way to 
the old mission-house, where we still kept most of our 
stores. She looked in, and, getting my attention, 
pointed out seawards. I knew what that meant, and 
slipping out saw a big, lead-coloured barquantine hasten- 
ing across the bay. Mrs. Robertson felt sure that it was 
a mission-ship, but I told her it was far too big for 
that, it was probably a labour ship returning natives. 
" You will find that I am right," she said, as she hurried 
on. So fully convinced was she in her own mind that 
she was on her way then to get blankets and bedding 
for the visitors she expected to entertain. I went back 
to my school until four o'clock, and when I reached 
home found my wife busy making scones. " For re- 
turned labourers } " I asked. " No ; for missionaries," 
she replied. She was right, after all. I determined, if 
no boat came on shore, I would go off in a canoe after 
tea. The Y arra-Y arra had been hauled up, and it 
was not worth while putting her in the water till it was 
necessary. It was nearly eight o'clock when, just as I 
was about to go down to the shore, I heard the sound of 
rowlocks in a boat, and a voice : " Good evening, Mr. 
Robertson ". It was Captain Jenkins, and I called 


back, " GcKxi evening. Is Mr. Annand there ? " " Yes ; 
I'm here, Robertson," and in another moment Annand 
sprang on shore. How pleased I was to see him, a 
friend, and all the way from dear old Canada! 

Mrs. Annand stayed on board, but Mrs. Goodwill 
and her child were in the boat, and would spend the 
night on shore. My wife's blankets were needed after 
all. We were soon up at the house, and got all the 
news from the Captain and Mr. Annand. They told 
us that this was the Paragon, chartered for four months 
to do the mission work. Among our letters was one 
from the Church at home, disapproving strongly of our 
step in coming here, but, withal, assuring us of their 
sympathy and prayers. In the morning I went off to 
the ship in the Yarra- Yarra and brought back Mr. and 
Mrs. Annand, who, with Mrs. Goodwill, spent the day 
with us. In the evening the ship and our friends left 
us, and we were again alone. That night we heard 
the death-wail in the valley; the weird moaning was 
kept up for hours. The death was that of Uviyemul, 
who had been married to a Tanna man. We had visited 
her daily during her illness, chmbing up the steep 
hill to her grass hut, and taking food and medicine 
to her. 

On the return of the Paragon from the north we 
took passage in her. Mrs. Robertson stayed at Futuna 
with Mrs. Copeland, while I attended the Annual Meet- 
ing at Anelcauhat. Mr. Annand was appointed to take 
up work at Fila on Efate. 1 should have liked him 
to come to Erromanga, for there was a grand opening 
at Cook's Bay. It was thought, however, that Fila was 
the more suitable station at that time, and accordingly 
Mr. and Mrs. Annand were settled there on their return, 
the small island of Iririki being their headquarters. 
The report from Erromanga for that year — our first — 

THE YEAR 1873 213 

was regarded as very encouraging. I was able to tell 
of a teacher having been settled five miles south of 
Dillon's Bay, another at Sufa, one near the south-east 
arm of Cook's Bay, and still another at Un5va, in 
Portinia Bay, near the spot of Mr. Gordon's martyrdom. 
Mr. Inglis seemed specially pleased at the bright aspect 
of our work, and remarked that, though they all sym- 
pathised with us in our time of trouble and loneliness 
in this hard field, he was glad to remember that from 
the first he had favoured our settlement on Erromanga. 
On my return, after being about a month at home, 
I walked across the island, taking with me a teacher 
and his wife, who were to be settled at Impotak, the 
chief, Narai, having promised them his help and pro- 
tection. Leaving Dillon's Bay in the early morning, 
we pressed on towards Cook's Bay, taking a short track 
down as far as Cook's River, which we reached about 
eight at night. Two of my men, Naling and Sempint, 
swam the river in order to get a canoe to ferry me 
across. It was half-past nine before the canoe came. 
I thought it would be best to get my provisions and 
other things across first, and gave the men all my 
baskets. Half-way across, the outrigger came off, and 
the canoe was upset ; the baskets with my tea and sugar, 
flour and bread, sank to the bottom. The men managed 
to mend the outrigger, and ferried us all safely across. 
It was ten o'clock at night when we reached the church, 
but, as just at that time no teacher was in charge, I 
knew I must depend on the chief and people for food. 
But not a bite of food was I offered. They were angry 
about a marriage that had taken place shortly before 
at Dillon's Bay, and no one came near us. The next 
morning early we started for Impau, on our way home- 
wards. Some of the boys had managed to get some 
green bananas, which they roasted. I would gladly 


have eaten one, had there been any left, but all I saw 
was skins. I suppose they never dreamt that I would 
touch such food. We crossed the river again, and then 
had to walk several miles. I began to feel very weak 
and faint, for I had had nothing to eat since noon the 
day before. The men told me to tie creepers tightly 
round my body ; they try that plan themselves when 
hungry. I did so, and felt some relief. But we were 
all very glad when, about eight miles from Cook's Bay, 
we came in sight of a neatly thatched teacher's house ; 
we knew that we should find friends here. The chief 
almost at once brought me a roasted taro and a daintily 
cooked fowl, with a great hot stone right inside of it. 
Needless to say I set to, and, with my fingers for forks, 
I picked that fowl clean. By the time I had finished 
that fowl off, and the vegetable as well, I felt really 
comfortable. We stopped at Impau until the next day, 
and the chief loaded my people and myself with food. 
The teacher Netevisuo and his wife were doing good 
work, and seemed to be well liked. In the morning 
we started again, and this time had to walk inland. 
We reached Imelevi in the evening, and old Uluhoi, 
the chief, gave us a grand welcome ; two pigs were 
killed in honour of our visit. I could not touch pork, 
and asked Uluhoi if he could get me a fowl. He hurried 
away at once, and soon returned with a fowl and about 
a dozen of eggs. " You can have the fowl to-night, Misi, 
and eat the eggs in the morning." 

I did not eat those eggs in the morning, for, with a 
little delay, they would all have been chickens. The 
next morning we settled Nofen and his wife, Uvoi, at 
Impotak, seemingly in very favourable circumstances. 
Narai, the chief, pleased me by his delight and gratitude 
at their arrival and his thoughtfulness for their comfort. 
The poor fellow met with a painful accident shortly 


after this. He was cutting branches off trees, to clear 
ground for a plantation, when his large knife slipped 
and cut into his left hand, almost severing it from the 
wrist. He was a fine man, a true Christian, and, some 
years later, was a martyr for the faith. 

Perhaps one of the most touching incidents of that 
year, 1873, was our visit in September to the grave of 
James Gordon. Netai had often been to it, but by a 
circuitous route ; again and again had my people pro- 
mised to go with me, but each time had failed me. This 
time I made arrangements, and with a good crew left 
Dillon's Bay at daylight. On the following morning, 
when we reached Sumprim, which was near the spot, 
not one of the men would land. Though they had 
promised their help, at the last their courage failed. 
" What is your reason ? " I asked. Their ansv/er was, 
" If anything should happen to you, the Cook's Bay 
people will blame us ". I knew that there must be some- 
thing else that they were keeping back ; for, as I said 
then, they " could have told me this before we left 
home". I determined to head the Yarra- Yarra straight 
for Cook's Bay and find out the true reason. We 
reached the Bay in the evening, and soon met the chiefs 
and people. They had no objection to my going, they 
said. The real reason of the men's refusal to land 
was fear of the Potnuma people. Utevo, the sister of 
Naling, the chief of Dillon's Bay, had as a child been 
promised in marriage to the chief of Sumprim. When 
she grew up and became a Christian, she would not go 
to him, and her brother had taken her part — the case 
which is mentioned in Mr. Gordon's letter in a previous 
chapter. I had married her to Atnclo at Dillon's Bay 
some months before, and, Naling being one of my crew, 
they all knew that, should they fall into the hands of 


the angry Sumprim chief, not one would escape. It was 
of no use to try to persuade them, and reluctantly I 
turned back to Dillon's Bay, entering the river at sun- 

After a week at home I asked for volunteers to go 
again. There was a hearty response. Watata and Abel, 
both Aneityumese, Yomot, Ukina, Woris, Numpurom, 
Netai, Noye and others — fifteen in all — signified their 
willingness to accompany me. The night before we 
were to leave Mrs. Robertson was very much agitated, 
and begged me to give up the idea. I said : " If I dream 
to-night that it is better not to go, I will stay ; but 
if the dream points to my going, I will go ". In the 
morning she asked me about it. " Well," I said, " I 
dreamed I was not to go." " I am so glad," she replied. 
" But I am going all the same," I added. I felt some- 
thing like the Scotchman who said he was open to 
conviction, but he would like to see the man who would 
convince him. Although she thought I was very fool- 
hardy, my wife soon busied herself in packing my 
clothes in one basket, and in another a luncheon of 
newly baked scones, fresh butter, cold fowl and other 
dainties. As ill-luck would have it, that was the very 
basket that was left behind. Mrs. Robertson sent a 
boy round the rocks with it in hopes of catching us 
up, but he was too late and missed us. Just as the 
Yarra- Yarra was ready to leave I told the men all to 
stand up. I said : " If there are any women in the boat, 
let them get out now ". Numpuron turned to me, " I 
am not a woman," he said, and Yomot, with one of 
his expressive shakes, which in Yomot mean, " I am 
ready for anything," added : " We are none of us women 
here ". " Remember," I said, " you are to choose here ; 
let any one who is afraid say so now, but I am not 
going to be fooled again when we reach Potnuma. Do 


you all go of your own accord ? " " We go of our own 
accord ; we are no cowards," was the reply from all. 
Abel was quite a young fellow then, and I turned to 
him : " Do you really want to come, Abel ? " " Yes, 
Misi ; I am going with you ; I want to go7' 

The men were all fully armed with rifles and battle- 
axes. That night we reached Sumprim, and landed. 
We did not want to go to Potnuma in the night, nor did 
we wish to be seen going in the daylight, so thought it 
safer to stop at Sumprim. We were all hungry, and the 
men cooked green bananas, which tasted very good. 
Some of the crew slept in the boat, so that we could 
be ready to start at once in case of attack. But not 
a person seemed to know of our being there, and in the 
early dawn we slipped away again. The men examined 
and cleaned their weapons thoroughly, filled their belts 
with cartridges, and made everything ready. When 
we landed at Sempiumpu, four of them were left in 
charge of the boat. We reached a siman-lo, that is, a 
large eating-house, and saw several men just aroused 
from sleep. As soon as they saw us they tried to get 
away, but my men were quicker, and caught them before 
they could escape and raise an alarm. The few people 
in that village could have done us no harm, but if the 
inland tribes had heard of our coming we might have 
fared badly. For our own protection we had to make 
these men prisoners. We at once set to work to gather 
coral, and made them help us, each Sempiumpu man 
walking between two Dillon's Bay men. 

The grave is near the bank of the Potnuma River, 
a beautiful but lonely place, and, as we reached the 
sacred spot, our hearts were too full for words. I found 
poor Gordon buried only a foot below the surface ; 
everything had been done in such haste after his death. 
I saw the awful gash from the eye right across his face, 


which had been the death-blow. As soon as Netai saw 
this, he became convulsed with grief. He clasped his 
hands together, leaned against a tree, and moaned, " Oh, 
my Misi ! my dear Misi ! " reproaching himself that he 
had not cared for him better. We dug a new grave 
four feet deep, wrapped some of my clothes, which I 
had brought for the purpose, round the body, and laid 
it carefully down. We heaped the white coral over the 
mound, and made all as secure as we possibly could. 
We then sang a hymn ; I read a few verses, and then 
asked Netai, perhaps Mr. Gordon's best friend on Erro- 
manga, to pray. Poor Netai ! he began, but broke 
down in tears. It was a touching, a holy moment to 
us all. There, beside that lonely grave where Gordon 
sleeps, we vowed to be faithful to our God, if need be 
to the death, as he, too, had been faithful. After the 
burial we walked on to where the mission-house had 
stood ; now it was all pulled down, and everything in 
ruins. We saw what roused our indignation more against 
the cruel people, who seemed as if they could not do 
enough to dishonour the holy dead. A large oil-painting 
of Mr. George N. Gordon and his wife had been fastened 
to a banyan tree, quite fifty feet from the ground, and 
arrows without number shot into the eyes and other 
parts of their faces. What barbarism is in the ven- 
geance of the savage ! We at once had the portrait 
taken down and carried to the boat. Later I sent it 
with other things to Mr. Gordon's friends. We came 
now to the great cave where the people had once 
gathered for service — a rustic-looking spot, with the 
green moss clinging to the walls and dome. Everything 
reminded us of the brave man who had so often spoken 
and preached the Gospel in that very cave. 

Walking through it with an iron rod in my hand, 
I suddenly felt the " ting " of metal in the ground. I 


called the men, who soon cleared away the surface, and 
there, buried deep in soil and ashes, was the church bell, 
cast in London for Mr. George Gordon in 1856. Wa- 
tata and Numpurom tied it on a pole, and would allow 
no one but themselves to carry it the three miles to the 
boat. The men found also M"r. Gordon's small field- 
glass, two silver forks, a small jug, and some other 
articles. I heard that the bell had been buried by 
the heathen, who hoped to be able to sell it to the 
traders. When we reached the boat, we, of course, 
released the Sempiumpu men. Just as I was about to 
step into the Yarra- Yarra some one pointed out to 
me Narai, the accomplice of Mr. Gordon's murderer, 
a man about forty years of age. I never saw the real 
murderer. By this time the people were beginning to 
gather, and, as soon as possible, we shoved off. As 
soon as we were well out of range my men fired all 
their guns out seawards. We let the heathen see, at 
any rate, that we had been prepared for them. It was 
" home " now, and just about eight o'clock that night 
we entered Dillon's Bay. The boat-landing then was 
still up at the old place. The crew were all tired, poor 
fellows, and as we passed up the river I said, " Look 
here, lads ; you have done splendidly ; I will not ask 
you to land me here ; we will pull straight up, and I 
can walk back again ". Just then, Naling came rushing 
down, almost crazy with delight at seeing us again. I 
called to him : " Go and tell Mrs. Robertson that we are 
all safe, and that I will be down at once ". Naling was 
too much excited for that, and passed the message on 
to one of the women. Of course, she did not deliver it 
either. When Mrs. Robertson heard the sound of the 
oars, the boat passing up the river instead of stopping, 
she could not understand it. The women, all excite- 


ment, were running to hear the news, and she called 
to them : " Where is Misi ? " 

" Tawi iyi" ' he is not here,' was the reply. There is 
no wonder that she thought the worst had happened. 
She ran from the house all the way up to the boat-land- 
ing, and when I met her was almost ill with fright and 
agitation. Just before she saw me, she heard the men's 
voices laughing and the ringing of the bell as we lifted 
it from the boat, and so guessed that all was well. I was 
very sorry that she had been so much alarmed, and 
vowed then that I would never again trust a native to 
deliver an important message. 

That night our people were all out of their wits with 
excitement, and simply could not think of anything but 
our return. 



On our first coming to Dillon's Bay, we noticed at the 
entrance to the river the rather novel sight of a small 
steamer being built ; this was the first and, as far as I 
know, the only steamer ever built on these islands. Mr. 
Schmidt, a Prussian, a very handy, neat workman, who 
had been second officer on board the Dayspring, went 
to Aneityum, and for a time engaged in whaling there ; 
he had then settled on Erromanga, and was still in the 
whaling business. He found it difficult to go round a 
large island like this in a boat, and thought of trying 
to build a steamer; for he could then not only work 
Erromanga, but visit Aneityum as well for business. 
Meanwhile he took a trip to Melbourne, and, on his 
way, cut with his jack-knife a model of his proposed 
launch. On his return to Sydney again, he met a Mr. 
Gray, a practical engineer, to whom he submitted the 
plan. Gray approved of it, and there and then entered 
into partnership with Schmidt. The two came to Erro- 
manga, and at once commenced the work. This little 
steamer was built principally of Erromangan timber, 
and was about twelve tons burden. They called her 
the Enterprise — an appropriate name. The boiler was 
supplied through a firm of merchants in Sydney, and 
the fuel used was wood instead of coal. 

When we were settled there, in June, Schmidt was 
away in his tiny craft to Aneityum, but he soon returned. 



It used to be quite an event to hear her shrill whistle, 
and see her puffing right in to the river. Whenever the 
whaling boats came back from the open sea, boats, 
whales, and all were towed in by her. The partners, 
however, had not much success in the whaling line here. 
Soon after we came, they moved their headquarters to 
Elizabeth Bay, and, buying some of the land in that 
district, they tried cotton growing. Mr. Allen became 
their manager. About this time Mr. Schmidt entered 
the labour traffic, and took a share in the iron schooner 
Chance. He was very little on Erromanga after that. 
During the January hurricane their steamer was lying 
at anchor in Elizabeth Bay, and Mr. Gray became 
anxious about her safety. After much difficulty he 
managed to get on board, bruised and shaken, and his 
clothes dripping with wet. Every match that he tried 
to light failed to strike until the very last one, and with 
that he kindled the fires, and, by the aid of a few 
natives, got the Enterprise out to sea. He came into 
Dillon's Bay, and anchored, but the storm increased 
so much that he feared being driven on shore ; and so 
he got up steam again and made for Tanna. On reach- 
ing Bunkil Bay, on our coast, the gale was so strong 
that he was obliged to run in there for shelter. At 
two o'clock in the morning, the little vessel dragged 
ashore, and all managed to land by the cable. But 
poor Gray and the natives with him were in a terrible 
state of distress — cold and bruised, and their clothes 
torn off them by the fury of the storm. The Bunkil 
natives were wild savages, and the ship-wrecked people 
knew that they might be killed at any moment. No 
food could be got until after a long time, when Gray 
secured a small bunch of bananas by promising a pay- 
ment of tobacco. But so suspicious was the seller that 
he would not wait for payment till Elizabeth Bay was 


reached ; the tobacco must be got from the Misi ^ at 
Dillon's Bay. The ship-wrecked people then started 
to walk here, a weary distance of twelve miles ; they, 
especially Mr. Gray, must have suffered severely on the 
way, for he was barefooted, injured very much and 
dispirited ; it was a wonder he ever reached us. When 
the natives told us that he had arrived and was on the 
south side of the river^ we sent word at once for him 
to come right across. We could not understand why 
the natives came back without him, but that was soon 
explained. He was ashamed to come as he was. I 
at once sent some clothes over — the largest I had, for 
Gray was a big, stout man — and in a short time he 
arrived. After resting for a little, he felt able to come 
to the dining-room, but had scarcely sat down at the 
table v/hen he fainted away. It was several days before 
he began to mend, and he was still weak ; he seemed to 
feel very much the loss of the steamer. When he was 
able to return to Elizabeth Bay, we would not hear 
of his walking there, for he was not fit for it ; so the 
Yarm-Yarra took him round. During the following 
winter he went often to and fro to Bunkil, and used to 
drop in and see us as he was passing. He secured the 
boiler, and took all the gear from the ship that was 
of any use. The exposure in all kinds of weather 
did him much harm, and a few months later, when we 
were at Tanna, a letter arrived from Yomot telling us 
that in February Mr. Gray had died. Some time pre- 
viously Mr. and Mrs. Allen had left Elizabeth Bay. 
We learned afterwards that, when the poor man took 
ill, he begged his attendants, who were from the far- 
away Solomon Islands, to take him to Aniwa ; but 
they were afraid to risk the journey by sea. When he 
became worse, he implored them to go for medicine, 
but his pleading had no effect. How sad to think of him 


thus alone, among strangers— and heathen strangers ! 
The friendly old chief, Nalinewe, did all he could for 
him, but that was little enough. He was with him 
the night he died — a night of painful suffering. The 
people had, according to their custom, been crowding 
in all day to see him, looking at him, and doing nothing 
for his comfort, of course ; and now the two were 
alone. Nalinewe said that he " moaned and moaned 
all night ". In the early morning he fell off the sofa ; 
the chief was unable to lift him back, and the dying 
man lay in great misery until he became unconscious, 
and in unconsciousness passed away. We felt his sad 
death deeply ; it seemed cruel to thmk of him dying 
in that lonely place without a real friend near him. 
It is probable that on that last day they gave him neither 
food nor water. We were always sorry that he had not 
been brought to Dillon's Bay, where there would have 
been some little comfort for him. 

On this occasion, we had left Tanna on the 6th 
of November. It was a lovely morning, but, unfortun- 
ately, the wind died away, and we had to pull most 
of the way. Port Resolution was reached at eleven 
o'clock that same night. We had made up our minds 
to sleep in the boat, but Abel slipped up to the mission- 
house without our knowing it, and told the natives there. 
Mr. Neilson was roused, and he at once sent Abel 
and one of the teachers back to tell us we were to go up 
to the house at once. He soon got us a cup of tea, 
which was very refreshing after the long boat journey. 
We saw Mrs. Neilson, too, and her tiny baby, two days 
old. I spoke of starting for Kwamera the next morn- 
ing. Mr. Neilson said : " You may go ; Mrs. Robertson 
is not going, and the natives are not going". So we 
spent that day quietly at Port Resolution, and the next 
day started for Kwamera, on the same coast. As soon 


as he caught sight of us, Mr. Watt sent a canoe out 
to meet us and guide us safely in. Our boat stopped 
there a week, and even during that short time out 
Erromangan crew were in danger.^ A tribe, Uving 
about two miles inland, had lost some of their people 
on our island in the sandal-wood days, and they were 
now determined to take revenge. Mr. Watt found out 
that the chief meant mischief, and advised me to get 
the Erromangans away as soon as possible. On the 
first Sunday Mr. Watt had a communion service ; with 
the Aneityumese teachers, and our natives, and Mr. and 
Mrs. Watt and ourselves, we made up a very fair 
number. After that the Yarrn- Varra left ; Mr. Watt 
and I went in her as far as Port Resolution, and the 
following day the Erromangans left for home. They 
took one or two Tanna men with them to a district 
of that island where the people were friendly. The 
crew spent the night there, and were well treated. 
They told me that, in running across to Erromanga, 
they sighted a war-ship. The boat was hailed, and 
the men asked where they were from and their business. 
They told all that was wanted, and were then allowed 
to keep on their course. 

On New Year's Day, Mr. and Mrs. Watt arranged a 
gathering of the people, and made a great feast. Prizes 
were given for sports such as rurming and shooting, 
and every one seemed well pleased with the entertain- 
ment. I often went with Mr. Watt when he visited 
the different villages to hold a service; the people 
always seemed to be friendly, but that was about as far 
as they would go. There are many beautiful walks 
about Kwamera and some very pretty streams. On a 
lovely Wednesday morning, the 25th of February, our 
baby was born — the nabran Ipare^ 'Tanna woman,' as 
the Kwamera people insisted on calling her. Mrs. Watt 


was kindness itself ; she knew far more about children 
than Mrs. Robertson did, and "mothered" both mother 
and child. Mr. Watt baptised the baby in March. 

On the 25th of April there was the cry of " Sail-oh! " 
Mr. Watt got his glass, and soon made out the Paragon, 
or, as we were now to know her, the Dayspring. The 
passengers — Mr. and Mrs. Paton,* Mr. Copeland and 
Dr. Steel — landed, and spent a pleasant time on shore, 
and in the afternoon we left Kwamera for Port Resolu- 
tion and then Erromanga. On arriving at Dillon's 
Bay we found everything in excellent order, and we 
received a warm welcome from our people. They were 
delighted to see the new arrival, and Numpunia came 
running in great excitement to carry the baby up to 
the house. While Mrs. Robertson was getting some 
refreshments ready, I took Dr. Steel up the valley; the 
road was very muddy and the grass damp, but with all 
the inconveniences he seemed to enjoy the walk. What 
a bright, courteous nature his was! always ready to 
be pleased, always eager to encourage us and to show 
his appreciation of our work. Before the ship left we 
had a short service with the people, whom Dr. Steel 
kindly addressed. 

The Dayspring returned from the north on Sunday 
morning, the 24th of May. It was a specially interesting 
day to us all We had the pleasure of having with us 
not only Dr. Steel but also three of our fellow-mission- 
aries and their wives, and a communion service was 
held in our house that evening. Dr. Steel preached 
from Rev. vii. 1 3 — " What are these which are arrayed 
in white robes, and whence come they .'' " Mr. Annand 
and Mr. Macdonald also took part in the service. Dr. 
Steel wrote that to him it was " a deeply affecting ser- 
vice and a night to be long remembered ". On Monday 
morning the ship was dressed, and a salute fired in 


honour of our Queen. During the day I took our friends 
to see the different martyr-spots. After visiting the 
graves of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon and Mr. Macnair and 
the rock on which Wilhams was measured, I thought 
they might be interested in seeing old Numpunari — the 
brother of Williams's murderer ; so I took them to the 
place where he was — a very old and very feeble man 
indeed — dying, for he passed away soon after. Dr. 
Steel and Captain Jenkins were very much exhausted 
in going up Mount Gordon ; they seemed to feel the 
heat and the steep climb. Fortunately, we managed 
to get some lemons off the trees, near which the Gordons 
house had stood, and though very acid, the fruit was 
refreshing, and quenched their thirst 

Mrs. Robertson having preferred to remain on Erro- 
manga while I went to the meeting of Synod on Aneit- 
yum, we said good-bye and set sail that same after- 
noon. But we had scarcely got round the southern 
point of the bay, when my heart smote me ; I felt that 
I should have done anything rather than leave my wife 
alone. It was very courageous of her to offer to stay 
without me, but I ought not to have agreed to it. 
When we reached Aniwa the next day, I told Mr. 
Paton of my trouble. In the kindness of his heart he 
suggested that the vessel should go right back to Erro- 
manga ; but, of course, I could not expect that to be 
done. I cannot say that I enjoyed the meeting much 
that year, and I was very glad to be on my way home 
again. When we were leaving Dillon's Bay, Mr. Good- 
will, one of our missionaries on board, had arranged 
with Mrs. Robertson that if all was well, on our return, 
she was to hang something white on the verandah of 
the house, where it could be plainly seen. But when 
the Dayspring appeared she was so excited that she 
forgot all about the "signal". Mr. Goodwill was very 


much agitated, and imagined all kinds of evils. Like 
a wise man he had told me nothing, and no one but 
himself knew what was troubling him. We found Mrs. 
Robertson well, though our baby had been very sick. 
The natives, too, had been ill with influenza, and my 
wife had had far too much to do, and very little help. 
It was a great rehef to us to be together again. 

During his visit to Erromanga, Dr. Steel formed the 
idea of a memorial to all the martyrs. The sum of 
forty pounds had already been collected by Dr. W. Wyatt 
Gill,^ after the death of Williams and Harris, but at 
that time the island was in such an unsettled state that 
nothing could be done. Dr. Steel wrote to me suggest- 
ing one of three things — a tablet, a communion service, 
or a memorial pulpit. Our old church had been de- 
stroyed by a hurricane, and we were worshipping in a 
reed building. I told him that a good tablet or pulpit 
would be out of place in that church, and we already 
had a communion service. " Give us rather a memorial 
church," ^ I then said ; " nothing could be more suitable." 
Dr. Steel replied that a stone memorial church would 
cost at least two thousand pounds, and to that I 
answered : " A building of stone is not what we want ; 
it would be most unsuitable in these islands. A good, 
substantial weather-board church is the thing, and will 
be the best memorial that could be raised to the martyrs 
of Erromanga ". Dr. Steel then wrote, saying that, as 
we expected to be in Sydney later on, he would leave 
all arrangements in my hands. But he at once set 
actively to work and collected about two hundred and 
fifty pounds, chiefly from friends in New South Wales, 
who took great interest in the memorial fund. 

In the early part of the following year, we had a good 


deal of discouragement caused by sickness and death 
among our Christian people. Very suddenly one day 
Netai took ill. He had been at Raumpong, working 
in his plantation, and when he returned he said to his 
friends : " I have dug up yams, but I shall never plant 
them again ". The next day he became very ill, and 
Watata came running to me for help. We hurriedly 
got a stretcher, and were carrying him out when he 
died in our arms. We felt his death keenly. Netai 
was one of our staunchest men, and had been Mr. 
Gordon's faithful and trusted friend and a true follower 
of Christ. And this was also a sad blow to the Mission ; 
the heathen, ever ready to harm our cause, were now 
saying that all who took the Gospel would be sure to 

Very shortly after this, one of the Christian women, 
Nuferuvi, became very ill. We seemed to be having 
wave upon wave of trouble, and I felt that, humanly 
speaking, if she died, we might pack up and leave Erro- 
manga. The heathen were exulting in our sorrow. They 
had sent a message to Yomot saying that they intended 
to take his gun ; of course that meant his life. They 
regarded him as the imfako, ' the fighter,' or defender, 
of the Christian party. This young girl, Nuferuvi, was 
one of our best helpers, and was, at the time of her 
illness, living with Netai's wife. After a time she 
became unconscious, and we felt that her death was 
near. Mrs. Robertson was with her constantly, but at 
last became so unnerved that she had to go away. I, 
too, left for a little, and, as we had been doing all along, 
I again asked God to spare us Nuferuvi ; and in His 
great mercy our prayers were answered. When I went 
back she was sitting up, and in a httle put out her 
hand and called for ?iu, nu. ' Water ' was at once broueht. 
and she drank feverishly. Even then she seemed 


scarcely conscious of our presence ; her eyes were open, 
and she was weeping. In a few minutes, with a heavy 
gasp, she came to herself, and I spoke to her. She 
said : " Misi, don't speak ; I have seen something wonder- 
ful ; I see it yet. Why do you wake me ? " I said, 
" What do you see? " and in a little she replied : " / sazu 
Mr. Gordon'^ the Misty who was killed at Potnuma, and 
he beckoned me to go where he was and not to turn 
back. I wanted to go. Oh! why did you call me 
back?" Her eyes were streaming with tears as she 
spoke. For a long time she was still very weak, but, 
thank God, was spared to us. I believe our enemies 
were actually chagrined at her recovery. 

This case was a real illness and no sham; but, un- 
fortunately, some of the others, seeing how much im- 
pressed we had been by the incident, began to imitate 
Nuferuvi's trance. One day I was called hurriedly to 
visit a woman called Namprip. When I reached her, 
she was busy telling of a wonderful vision that she 
had just had. I let her finish her tale, and then said : 
" Namprip, you cannot deceive me thus ; Nuferuvi's case 
was real ; yours is too much like it to be anything but 
sham ; this trance business must stop ". 

About this time Lo-itevau, the chief of Sufa, asked 
for a teacher. Some of his people were on his side, 
but others were angry at the request. But though he 
could neither read nor write he was an out-and-out 
Christian, and, nothing daunted by this opposition, he 
at once began to build a schoolhouse. I decided to 
settle there Nelat, one of Mr. Gordon's converts, as 
teacher, and with him a man called Netai and his wife. 
She taught the women to read and instructed them in 
many other ways, and soon the whole village became 
quite friendly to us, but nothing more. Strange to 
say, that village, Sufa, though the nearest to Dillon's 


Bay, has long held out against Christianity, an3 there 
are still a few heathen there following their old customs 
of feasting and other religious observances. 

Mrs. Robertson took such a fancy to a bright young 
girl called Lalim Nimpu, belonging to Sufa village, 
that we asked her brother Naling to give her up to us, 
promising to teach her in our own home at Dillon's 
Bay. He, poor fellow, was quite willing, but told us 
that she was already sold to the heathen of Unepang 
and that he had no claim on her. Very shortly after 
this we saw the girl, dressed in long, trailing skirts, 
being hurried past our house on her way to Unepang. 
These people must have heard of our wish, and wanted 
to get hold of her as soon as possible. This young 
Christian girl, Lalim, was then not more than fourteen 
years of age. In Unepang she was surrounded by 
wickedness on every hand, for it was the very heart 
of heathenism, but instead of giving way to it and 
becoming as one of those around her, she taught her 
husband to read, and told him of her God — the God of 
love. The couple came to our village and lived near us ; 
and the husband, Umas, after several years, died a sin- 
cere Christian. 

According to Erromangan custom, Lalim then be- 
longed to her husband's nearest relative. But she really 
would not go back to Unepang. She has lived with her 
little daughter ever since in Dillon's Bay district, and 
for about ten years or more has been one of our best 
and most faithful helpers ; as head-laundress she has 
proved a real treasure. She washes and does up linen 
beautifully, takes such pains to do her work well, and 
is always obedient, bright and willing. Mrs. Robertson 
often says that it is fortunate for her that Lalim elected 
to remain a widow. Of course she had first the task 
of teaching her, but then it is well that her trouble is 


being repaid. In many other cases, year after year, 
my wife has gone to all the labour of taking into the 
house " raw recruits " — young girls who don't even know 
the name of a single household article. These are 
under constant and careful training for a year or two, 
and, just when they are beginning to be useful, their 
relatives come to the conclusion that it is high time 
for them to be married. We are always pleased when 
these girls are married to teachers or those who are 
likely to become teachers. Our very best teachers' 
wives are those who have been under our instruction ; 
they not only read and write well, but they are able to 
cut out and sew garments, and to teach those around 
them to do the same ; they wash regularly and keep 
themselves clean and tidy, and altogether have more 
" savee " about them than those who have never lived 
in the mission-house. 

We had some rather queer helpers during our first 
years here. We kept both cows and goats. Molep 
was the goat-herd. If he found the goats anywhere near 
the premises, he would bring them in at night ; if not, 
he never bothered his head about them. For every 
night that they were safely penned they were two nights 
roaming the hills. I walked up to the goat-herd's house 
one Sunday morning. Molep, ready dressed for service, 
was very religiously studying his Bible. There had 
been no milk brought that morning. " Have you looked 
for the goats ? " I asked. " No ; they did not come in 
last night." On the flat-land a little distance from our 
house I found the flock, and brought them down. My 
" man " was still busy reading ; I said : " Molep, I have 
brought the goats ". " Ava" ' indeed,' he replied ; and 
after a little strolled up slowly to milk them. 

The cow-herd was Nol, a smart fellow, who thought 
that milk, pure and simple, was not the correct thing 


for missionaries. But I was surprised when Mrs. Robert- 
son first told me that she beheved the milk was watered. 
I told her it could not be, that a native would never 
think of such a thing. One day it would be fairly 
good, the next very weak, till one morning I had to 
agree that there was more than milk in what we were 
drinking. The poor fellow had evidently been in a 
hurry, and seemed to have dipped the bucket in the 
river as he was passing. I decided to see the bottom 
of all this, and the next day rose very early. Over in 
the cow-yard was a good-sized tree with thick foliage, 
and I sat on a branch where I could have a good view 
of the proceedings. In a little time Nol, with two 
big buckets and a pannikin, came along. He milked 
away for a while ; then I saw five or six boys, each 
carrying a tin, come up to him. Nol filled the tins 
with the warm, rich milk, chatted for a while with them, 
and then called out to the backward ones : " Come on, 
boys ; bring your kapel^ ' tins ' " ; and the milk was ladled 
out again. This was to be used for fattening small 
pigs. When they all seemed satisfied, I said : " Nol, 
will you please leave just a little for my child ? " The 
crowd looked up, startled at hearing a voice coming 
from the tree. Nol uttered a shout of alarm, and then 
stood as if he were petrified ; the boys scampered away 
in all directions, and pannikins and milk were thrown 
this way and that I came down then and found the 
culprit trembling. "You are caught this time, Nol," 
I said ; " now you can set to work and get us some 
milk for our breakfast." As far as I know, that was the 
last time the milk was watered. This incident gives 
the reason for my reply to a man who persisted, during 
a public meeting in Canada, in asking questions about 
the Erromangans. His last was : " Now, can you give 
any practical proof of their advancement in civilisation ? " 


" Certainly I' I replied ; " they began to water the milk 

After this little affair of Nol's had come to light we 
had no trouble ; there was plenty of rich milk, and Mrs. 
Robertson told the people that in the evenings she 
would be glad to give them skimmed milk for their pigs. 
They did not like to refuse, and all turned up with 
their kafel, as they call empty meat-tins. But their 
feelings must have been very much hurt by our discovery 
of their " dairy business," and almost as soon as it was 
filled each kafel was pitched away. Tia, a tiny girl, 
one of Rangi's children, radiantly told us that her mother 
was so good that she did not throw hers away ; once 
she wanted to do so very badly, but atekisah, she ' strove,' 
with her feelings, and only flung the milk away when 
she had passed right outside of our gate. 

In March, 1875, we had the rather startling experience 
of a tidal wave. About nine o'clock on the evening 
of the 29th there was a very severe shock of earthquake, 
followed by a slight tidal wave. Watata called out : 
" The boat ! the boat ! " and we both ran as fast as 
we could to the spot where it had been anchored, close 
to the old mission-house. No boat was to be seen. 
With some other men who had joined us we searched 
the river, by the light of torches, until we reached 
the bathing-place. There we found the Yarra- Yarra 
safely anchored, but damaged. We brought her down 
the river a little distance that same night, and the next 
morning took her to the boat-house, hauled her up and 
cleaned her thoroughly. I intended to mend and paint 
her the following day. But that same night, about 
nine o'clock again, an awful earthquake was felt, which 
made doors and windows rattle, and shook our house 
to its very base. Fearing another tidal wave, Watata 


and I ran up to the old house, and carried down the 
anchor, dragging the chain after us. We intended 
chaining the boat to a tree, but, when we reached it, I 
decided to get the key of the boat-house, and we would 
run the Yarra- Yarra right in. I reached our house and 
had just got the key, when I heard a great angry roar. 
On opening the door of the room, to my horror I saw 
a prodigious wall of sea, stretching right across the 
bay, and which appeared about forty feet high, come 
rolling in. That instant I heard Watata calling : " Misi, 
the sea, the sea is coming! Never mind the boat. 
Escape with your wife and child for your lives ! " I 
sprang into the bedroom, caught up the child and 
wrapped her in a blanket, and, with Mrs. Robertson, 
rushed out at the backdoor. The native girls were 
standing terror-stricken just outside, and I told them to 
follow us. I called to Watata to chain the boat to a 
tree. Fortunately he heard me and did so, and then, 
with the Erromangans, made for the high ground at the 
back of our cow-shed. On his way he called to an old 
woman named Lalim — the mother of Navusia, Yomot's 
wife, who was living near us — to run for her life. But 
she refused to leave her charms and sacred stones ; ^ 
and climbing on a pile of stones near her house she 
held on like grim death to them and to her heathen 
baubles. She escaped, but only by about five feet 

We ran straight to the hill at the back of our house. 
As we began the ascent, it seemed, from its dreadful 
roar, as if the sea was right upon us. It had then reached 
the stone fence in front of our house. We bounded 
from rock to rock and rushed through the reeds and 
scrub, till Mrs. Robertson, getting entangled in them, 
fell. I called back to her to run. She answered that 
she could not, but in an instant was on her feet and at 
my side. I, too, found it hard, for I was trying to 


protect my child's face and head by holding the blanket 
closely round her. She was smiling and laughing at us, 
and seemed to be enjoying the whole thing as a frolic 
specially arranged for her. Probably she thought it 
was a new idea of ours to put her to sleep. It used to 
take us till about ten o'clock every night to walk that 
child to sleep. That was indoors, this night it was 
out, and a rather hard road to travel, but she enjoyed the 
fun immensely. We climbed higher and higher till we 
felt we were safe from the sea ; and, worn out, bruised 
by knocks and falls, and our clothes torn, we entered a 
small cave and sat down. Just then we heard the 
men calling to us. I called back : " We are all here ; 
bring a torch ". They soon came with lights, but at 
once made us leave the cave, telling us that there was 
danger from loose rocks while sitting in such a place 
immediately after a severe earthquake. The danger 
from the sea was now over, and the men very kindly 
and carefully guided us back to our house. We were 
still so unnerved by all that had taken place that I asked 
some of them to sleep on our premises that night, which 
they very cheerfully did. We gave them plenty of hot 
tea and biscuits, and that night their loud talking and 
laughter were far from unpleasant to us. 

We got up at daylight, and went out to " view the 
land ". What a desolation ! Our boat-house had been 
new and strongly built. It had a strong, swinging gate 
at the sea end, with heavy hinges and padlock. Inside 
were boat-sails, masts, oars and rowlocks. From the 
house to the river we had laid a heavy framework of 
Aneityum timber and rollers, over which we used to 
pull the Yarra- Yarra to launch her. But, when we 
reached the spot that morning, not a sign of boat-house 
nor anything belonging to it was to be seen — neither 
sails nor masts, not even the iron rowlocks. Instead 


there was a great heap of sand, and stones, and dead 
fish in hundreds. The Yarra- Yarra had been tossed like 
a shell back as far as the chain extended, and there lay, 
her planks all torn away from the stern-post, and the 
boat herself half-full of mud and sand. And our own 
beautiful front grounds ; what a chaos of disgust they 
now appeared ! The wave in its greater force had been 
received by the river, but it knew no bounds. It had 
first broken on the bar, and then swept on towards 
our house, and laid low on the ground 100 ft. of a strong 
stone fence, 5 ft. both in height and breadth. It tore up 
a plot of about five hundred pine-apples, and, carrying 
with it old logs filled with slugs, and tons of fish, it 
spread all over our front premises, and had spent its 
force by the time it reached the back of the house, where 
it ended in only a wash. 

So utterly discouraging did the place seem that, for 
a time, we despaired of ever getting things put to 
rights. But we had much to be thankful for ; we were 
all three living and well, and there had been no loss of 
life among our people, nor any injury to them. Our 
house, that had cost us so much labour and time, stood 
high and dry above all the surrounding waste Being 
raised on a solid stone foundation five feet above the 
ground, the sea passed round it, not through it. It was 
firm, and dry, and clean, and had stood the waves like 
a rock. Surely we should have been grateful to God 
for His watchful care over us and our people had we only 
escaped with our lives ; but here He had commanded 
that no evil should come nigh our dwelling. As for 
the natives they are a law to themselves ; nothing dis- 
turbs them. The huge wave had brought them fish of 
all kinds, and what cooking went on day after day and 
what eating! They cooked them wholesale at first to 
keep them from spoiling, and then boned them and 


made them into all kinds of savoury dishes. The fact 
that dead fish were decaying all around them made no 
difference ; they cooked and devoured the good ones 
day and night, their motto apparently being — " Never 
too much of a good thing ". We had hard work to get 
them to set to and dig holes in which to bury the 
hundreds of decaying fish lying all over the valley. A 
great rock, which must be quite twenty tons in weight, 
was lifted out of the water by the huge wave that night, 
and set down again about one hundred and fifty yards 
further up the river, where it lies to this day. 

After some weeks of steady work, our grounds began 
to look better. We rebuilt the stone fence much closer 
to the house than before, repaired the Varra- Yarra, and 
made a new boat-house, and after a time the whole 
place looked as lovely as ever. We had almost resolved 
to move our house higher up the valley, but Mr. Inglis 
advised us not to go to all that labour and expense, as 
such an earthquake and tidal wave might not come 
again in fifty years. So we have remained here, but, 
as our house is only twenty feet above high water 
line and only about two hundred yards from the sea, 
there is always a possibility of danger during a severe 
earthquake. Only one of great severity has since 
occurred, that of June, 1885 ; a dreadful one it was, but 
the sea did not rise. My opinion was that the motion 
of the shock was then from north to south, and as 
Dillon's Bay opens to the west the sea did not roll in. 
I honestly confess to a great dread of earthquakes and 
tidal waves. You can do something in a hurricane, or 
if attacked by a savage man, or by a wild bull, which is 
much the same thing. In an earthquake you are help- 
less unless you are fleet of foot, and there is high ground 
nezir — and you have time to get there. 



Through the effectual labours of one of our teachers, 
the good Noye, we were able during this year (1875) 
to open up a new station at Rampuntampent. I also 
intended visiting the Unepang district ; but, when we 
were all ready to start, Avelavel, a friend, came to warn 
us. " You are not to go, Misi." " Why ? " I asked. 
" Sz sie si, 'there is something,'" he replied, meaning 
that there was evil brewing. Then he added : " If you 
go, they are going to kill you ". " Oh, well ! they won't 
have that pleasure to-day," I said. 

I then told the men to pull up the boat. There was 
deep enmity against us in that wild district, and trouble 
also between the Unepang tribes and the people of 
Raumpong, a village in Dillon's Bay. A " sacred " 
man named Woris ^ had managed to get hold of the butt 
end of some sugar-cane that an Unepang man had 
been chewing, and they all knew what that meant ; his 
sorcery would cause sickness to that man, perhaps death. 
Woris was shot dead that night as he lay on his mat 
smoking, and fierce was the anger between the two 
districts. We were in the midst of dangers and alarms, 
and during the summer these seemed to increase. 

One day a small vessel, a cutter, came to anchor. 
She was in the New Caledonia trade, and the captain 
wanted to buy pigs and fowls. The first day that she 
was here, an Erromangan, a native of Raumpong, who 



went by the name of " Mr. White," visited the ship. 
He had been years away from the island, had only just 
returned, and was a thorough scamp. " Mr White " 
asked for grog. He was refused. " We never give or 
sell grog to natives," was the reply, and " Mr. White " 
left in a huff. The next morning he sent a small bunch 
of miserable bananas to the ship, wanting tobacco in 
return. He also sent word to say that he had seven fat 
hogs, " so fat that they could not see out of their eyes " ; 
if the captain brought plenty of tobacco, knives and 
axes, he could have them. The captain and mate 
called to see us the same afternoon, offered to take 
letters for us to New Caledonia, and told us of " Mr. 
White's " proposals. When the mate came the next 
morning, he asked if we would give him our mail then 
or wait till he had bought the pigs and was coming back. 
I said, " There are no pigs there ; the captain is being 
deceived ; these people are a bad lot ". He said, " Oh ! 
I think the man — ' Mr. White ' — is safe enough ; he 
says there are pigs ". I replied, " If you will go, be 
careful. I'll have our letters ready by the time you 
come back ". 

When the mate reached Raumpong, he was surprised 
to see a crowd of men and boys on the shore, all armed 
with battle-axes and clubs. He called to them : " Where 
are the pigs that you promised to have ready for us ? " 

Mr. White answered : " We have no pigs ; " and at once 
another native began to pull up the boat. The mate, 
seeing then that he had been deceived and that mischief 
was intended, jumped out, and tried to shove her off 
ag^in, but the men, standing over him with their battle- 
axes, kept him from doing this. In a twinkling the 
rascally crowd had emptied the boat of all the trade 
axes, knives, calico and a long roll of Fiji tobacco, which 
they dragged out, lopping it off with their axes as each 


man and boy grabbed for a share. Not a single thing 
was left in the boat with the exception of one hatchet, 
which, strange to say, their keen eyes had overlooked. 
The mate returned to the ship with an empty boat, 
and very much excited and annoyed. But it turned out 
that he had got off much better than he, poor fellow, 
knew. The old chief, Ndvvvai, had forbidden his 
people to kill the white men, but gave them permission 
to steal everything that they could lay their hands on. 
Had it not been for this, the mate and his crew would 
have been murdered that morning, and the boat, as well 
as the trade in it, would have been taken by those 
Raumpong men. 

The captain of the cutter was naturally very much 
annoyed at the way his men had been treated, and it 
is said that he threatened to return soon with a man-of- 
war to punish the thieves. A long-tongued native 
named Nangerevit, who was on board, heard this, and, 
though himself opposed to all that his countrymen had 
done and in full sympathy with the captain, he at once 
went to Raumpong and warned the people of their 
danger. The thanks that he got for his information was 
that if he did not make himself scarce at once they 
would " do " for him as they would have " done " for 
the white men, had they been allowed. As for a man- 
of-war, if it came, and its natemenok, ' chief,' but touched 
a tree or canoe of theirs, they would revenge them- 
selves on the Misi as soon as the ship left; the Misi 
had been on board the cutter and the captain had been 
at his house; they were both white; //ley must be 
brothers. Just about this time, a cruel murder took 
place within a mile of where we were living. A young 
man named Noye, who wished to renounce heathenism, 
was staying at Dillon's Bay, and one evening strolled 
up the valley to a spot where some of his people were 


feasting. Returning, he passed about forty men gathered 
near a large house ; then thinking, perhaps, that they 
might judge him cowardly, he turned back to talk to 
his supposed friend, a chief. After a few minutes, at a 
sign from this man, another stole up behind Noye, 
dashed his battle-axe over his victim's head and right 
into his heart. With this death-wound the poor fellow 
rushed against the thatched walls of the house, then 
fell, covered with blood, on the stony ground outside. 
The murderers, of course, fled at once. On hearing the 
news we hurried to the spot, and found poor Noye 
lying dead near the feasting-house, his heart cut right 
open. All was excitement and confusion after this 
cruel affair. Noye's murderers were people of the 
districts near Raumpong, and, of course, this only added 
to the prevalent feeling of enmity and distrust. For a 
long time this state of things continued. In passing 
their village on the shore, when we were visiting places 
to the south of Dillon's Bay, we used to keep the boat 
well out of range of their muskets ; they dared not 
attempt to follow us in their miserable canoes. 

Hoping to make matters easier for them if a man-of- 
war should come, I sent a message by Naling, the 
Christian chief, offering to take charge of any of the 
stolen trade that they still had, if they would give it 
up. They sent word that they had given the trade 
hither and thither to their friends, and as for the tobacco 
it had long since passed into smoke. In any case, 
they added, they would not have given up an article 
to any person ; they had taken it and it was theirs ; the 
ship was a nasty ship that would only buy pigs and 
fowls, while they wished to sell anything they liked 
and get anythmg they wanted in return. That was 
free trade — all on one side, however. They repeated 
the old threat, that the Christian party would suffer, 

i875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 243 

should they be punished. I was the one they specially 
named, and, failing me, Yomot, who, they said, was 
the " strong " man among us. They sent word to us 
that they were going to burn the mission-house and 
drive the Misi and his family into the sea. They were 
going to take Yomot's gun. Yomot's reply was short 
and to the point — " And what do you think we shall 
be doing all that time ". 

Some time after this Captain Caffin, of H.M.S. 
Beagle, called at Dillon's Bay, and, hearing of the 
trouble, said he would like to go and talk to those 
Raumpong natives, and asked me to go with him to 
interpret his words. The Captain spoke calmly but 
very firmly to them of their cruel murder of Noye 
and then of their repeated threats against me and our 
Christian people. He refused to shake hands with the 
murderer, whom they trotted out as a good ivaiTior, 
saying he had killed many men in his time. " You 
coward," he said ; " you deserve to swing for it ". 

I tried to ask Captain Caffin not to say anything more, 
for I knew the Erromangans ; you cannot force them. 
But he added : " Now I am going away, but I shall 
be back again, and I warn you that if you touch a hair 
of this gentleman's head I will give you a dressing 
that you will never forget as long as you live ". I 
hoped to be able to turn this warning of Captain Caffin's, 
as he pointed to my bald head, into a joke, as I saw 
he had gone far enough, but it was too late. They 
were angry, thoroughly roused, and Sorifu, an under 
chief, turned to the people and said " Utepu,' ' don't you 
answer him '. It was only after we reached my own 
house that I told the Captain the meaning of this ; 
they would not hear anything now, and things seemed 
to be in a worse state of anger than before. 

The way in which, at last, the enmity of the Raum- 


pong tribe ceased was strange. Returning from one 
of their great heathen feasts some time after this, 
Novvvai, the old chief, died on the road. Another man 
of the same name, the sorcerer or priest of the village, 
also took ill on the road, and lost one of his eyes by 
that sickness. And there had been other deaths 
among the people. The Christian natives looked upon 
all this as God's judgment upon the wicked people 
for their murder of Noye and their attack upon the 
boat belonging to the cutter. When Navusia, Yomot's 
wife, heard of the death of a Raumpong man named 
Woris, though she was a gentle, sincere Christian, she 
could not restrain her satisfaction, for she, too, had 
suffered by the cruelty of his people. ^' Kompol/4gt^ 
kompalugi, ' thank you, thank you,' " she said, clap|jing 
her hands in her pleasure ; " this is good news ; this is 
sweet ; thank you, thank you ; I have now my revenge 
for the murder of my child Noye ". 

In January, 1876, our son was bom. Of course, as a 
boy — a natemenok^ ' a chief — there was a great fuss made 
over him. His faithful and loving old nurse, Navusia, 
looked upon him as gold-dust. She would tiptoe about 
the room when he was sleeping, or sit down adoringly 
beside him, fanning him from the flies and the heat, 
and keeping a strict guard on the door, letting no one 
enter the room, except his mother as a great favour 
now and again, to whom, however, she would only speak 
in hushed whispers. I believe if Navusia had had her 
own way she would have sent us all up the valley 
every time the young gentleman chose to sleep, in order 
that they might have the whole house to themselves 
and that no sound might disturb his lordly repose. The 
natives would never deny our children anything ; would 
spoil them by misdirected kindness, and, indeed, would 

i875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 245 

sometimes almost resent our reproving them for anything. 
They looked upon them as their very own, and were and 
are still passionately fond of them. I have known our 
children to scream with fright on seeing a strange white 
face, and to rush for protection to their black nurses. It 
was often through the little ones that we gained friends 
among the heathen ; for they had no fear of any black 
face, but looked upon them all as friends, and, of course, 
put there specially to do their bidding. It is rather 
amusing to notice the pompous " do as you're told " 
style in which white children, in these islands, lord it 
over the natives, old and young. A few years ago 
Mrs. Robertson and I had both been ill with fever, 
and unable to go to the dining-room for meals. One 
day I was much better and strolled out to the room 
a little after one o'clock. The table was carefully laid, 
and there seemed to be abundance of food. Our little 
four-year-old Mabel was there, perched up on her high 
chair, as solemn as a judge, eating a little of everything, 
a woman standing behind her prompt to obey every 
order, while our dear old cook, Ohai, hovered in the 
background of the kitchen ready to cook anything what- 
ever that the child might fancy. Mabel had a good 
deal of trouble in mastering the younger girls, who 
looked upon an order from her as a huge joke, and 
would giggle every time she gave one. However, she 
persevered, and, by giving her commands very pom- 
pously, she managed after a while to let them know 
who was " boss," always being careful to add, with as 
much dignity as her height would allow, " and see that 
you don't break my word ". 

The year that Gordon was born, the Synod was to 
be held at Nguna, and we intended to go ; that is, I 
would go to the meeting, while Mrs. Robertson would 
accept Mrs. Mackenzie's long-standing invitation to stay 


with her at Erakor. Within a few days of the time that 
we expected the Dayspring to arrive at Erromanga, our 
Christian people joined with us in observing the Sacra- 
ment of the Lord's Supper. It was a well-attended and 
hearty service, and we all felt that we had cause for 
thanksgiving that our Father had brought us safely 
through the trials and dangers of the past months. We 
hoped that the people who had come to it from a distance 
would stay until the arrival of the Dayspring, as we 
intended to kill a bullock and wanted the ship to have 
some of the fresh beef. But on Monday morning 
the Cook's Bay people became impatient to get home, 
so we decided to kill the animal at once. We divided 
most of the beef among those assembled, keeping a 
portion for the Raumpong tribe and also a small roast 
for ourselves. Towards evening, Naling and I went in 
the canoe to Raumpong, taking the chief his share of 
the beef. Just as we were pushing off again, I called 
back to him and to his people bidding them be sure, 
if they should see the Dayspring, to send some one to 
let us know. I had scarcely said the words when, turn- 
ing, I saw something like the tops of three small trees 
above the rocks at the southern point of the bay. I 
said to Naling : " Look ! what is that ? " His reply was a 
wild shout of " Sail-oh ! Sail-oh — ^wi ! " and, sure enough, 
in another minute the Dayspring came in full sight. 
Two boats were towing the vessel, for there was not a 
breath of wind. About the same time that we saw 
the ship, she was sighted from the mission-station, and 
we could distinctly hear the shouting of the people. 
None but those who know what it is to be weeks and 
months (the calls were made once a year at one time) 
without hearing from the outside world can realise what 
we felt at such a time. Our natives knew that they 
could not shout too loudly for our pleasure ; there was 

i875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 247 

always a call when any ship was sighted, but when our 
own ship, the tidy Dayspring, used to appear, the excite- 
ment knew no bounds. Of course, we would be ex- 
pecting her for days and even weeks beforehand ; then 
one day we would hear a faint " coo-ee " from a distant 
headland, for some one had seen a " speck " away to 
the south. All would be disturbing uncertainty for a 
little ; then, perhaps in a few minutes, or hours, as the 
case might be, the calling would become louder, and 
when she appeared round the point, caught up by one 
and another, came the long drawn-out, thrilling " Sail-oh! 
Sail-oh — wi ! " Who could mistake that call ? — the dear 
old Dayspring call,, that meant so much to us ; friends 
and letters from dear ones were coming nearer every 
minute, and the natives had our full consent to shout 
themselves hoarse, for was not " the little white ship " 
worth it. 

This day, when the vessel after a long time came to 
anchor, the natives fired a salute of welcome. We were 
rather surprised that there was no response, and when, 
soon after, a boat approached the shore, our men fired 
again, right over the heads of the passengers. Mr. 
Neilson called out : " Is that the way you welcome your 
visitors ? " and to our amusement we heard that the 
firing had occasioned some alarm among those on board. 
Mr. and Mrs. Watt and Mr. Neilson were the only 
passengers who came on shore that evening ; they re- 
mained an hour or two, and the next morning all our 
friends came in and spent the day with us. There were, 
besides those already mentioned, Mrs. Neilson, Mr. and 
Mrs. Inglis and Mr. Copeland, who had lost his wife 
just a little before this. We enjoyed very much having 
them all in our house. We were able after all to give 
them fresh beef for dinner ; some of them had not 
tasted it for many a day. 


We were told that during the afternoon of the day 
she arrived here, the Dayspring lay becalmed off Bunkil, 
and began to drift closer and closer in to the shore. 
The boats were lowered, and at last succeeded in pulling 
her out of danger. During this anxious time, Mrs. Inglis 
was vainly trying to comfort the younger missionaries 
and their wives with the assurance that, should the vessel 
drift on to the rocks, which it was quite certain she 
would, they would all be cooked and eaten by the 
savages of Bunkil. But there is many a slip 'twixt cup 
and lip ; and this good, shrewd woman,, though usually 
correct in her judgment, was quite wrong this time. 
The ship did not drift on to the rocks, and the cannibal 
" Bunkilites " missed their prey. 

We had a good run from Dillon's Bay to Fila (or 
Vila) Harbour, and Mr. Annand soon came off to us 
in his boat The mission-station on Iririki was looking 
its loveliest, the garden full of flowers, and roses every- 
where. I think Mr. Annand said he had counted 
five hundred rose-buds one morning at Christmas. We 
took up Mr. and Mrs. Annand and, at Erakor, Mr. 
Mackenzie, leaving my wife and children with Mrs. 
Mackenzie until our return. Mrs. Neilson stayed with 
her sister, Mrs. Macdonald, at Havannah Harbour. 
During the meeting at Nguna, it was decided that Mr. 
Annand should be transferred from Iririki to Anelcauhat, 
on Aneityum, the station which had been Dr. Geddie's 
for so many years. Mr. Inglis was intending to leave 
the islands, and Mr. Murray had already, on account 
of his wife's ill-health, returned to the Colonies. Mr. 
and Mrs. Annand could not, of course, leave Iririki 
that trip, as the house had to be taken down and every- 
thing packed up first ; they came south to Aneityum 
the following trip of the vessel. 

On our return from Nguna, just as we reached Dillon's 

1875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 249 

Bay, rain began to fall — as it only can fall in the tropics 
■ — and there was not a breath of wind. For four days 
the Day spring lay becalmed, and we had all the southern 
missionaries and their families with us on shore. We 
enjoyed very much the unexpected visit. The rain 
fell in torrents, but we were all safe and comfortable, 
and the native helpers were kind and willing to do any- 
thing for us. In addition to the missionaries and 
Captain Braithwaite, of the Dayspring, we had Captain 
Caffin (Lieut.-Commander, as he was then) and Lieut. 
Horsley, both of H.M.S. Beagle, with us. When, after 
her former visit in March, the Beagle was leaving the 
bay, she lost one of her boats. A heavy sea had come 
on, rolling in from the west. Captain Caffin got up 
anchor, and it was with the utmost difficulty he succeeded 
in beating out to sea. So strong was the wind, and 
such a heavy sea running, that one of the small boats 
was washed overboard. It drifted round into Portinia 
Bay, and Naling, the teacher there, and one of his men, 
managed to secure it, and then sent me word. The 
Dayspring met the Beagle on the way to Nguna, and 
Captain Caffin was delighted when he heard that his 
boat was safe. Captain Braithwaite lent him one of the 
Erromangans he had on board as boat's crew to pilot 
the Beagle round to Portinia Bay. The two ships left 
for Erromanga at the same time ; we arrived in Dillon's 
Bay on a Saturday evening, and the Beagle came to 
anchor on Sunday morning, with the missing boat on 
board. Captain Caffin gave fifteen shillings to the 
teacher and five shillings to the young man who helped, 
and when he reported the matter to the Admiral a letter 
was at once very kindly sent, thanking the teacher for his 
care of the boat. 

During the Sunday that our friends were with us, 
Mr. Inglis christened our baby boy, Gordon ; so named 


for the martyr-brothers of Erromanga. NaUng, the 
chief's httle son, was also to get his name that day, 
but, though we asked Mr. Inghs to baptise our child, 
I was desirous to baptise Naling's boy myself, for he 
was one of my own people. However, Mr. Inglis 
settled the matter. " Oh ! there is no necessity for that 
at all," he said ; " I'll just baptise them both." And he 
did. Mr. Neilson gave a very fine address. 

The Beagle stayed for some time after the other ship 
left. Captain Caffin used to go up for a swim in the river 
every morning about six o'clock, and would take nothing 
to eat then ; we wanted him to join us at breakfast on 
shore, but he always insisted on going off to the ship. 
I warned him that he would take fever, but he thought 
he was fever-proof. However, one morning he came 
down shivering, and said : " I think I will take a cup of 
tea or coffee before going off ; I feel cold ". I knew at 
once that he was in for a good dose of fever, but he 
would not hear of that ; it was merely a " headache ". 
He spent that night on shore, and for eight days could 
not leave his room, being stricken heavily with fever 
and ague. On Sunday nights the blue-jackets were all 
on shore ; Mr. Horsley was very fond of music, and we 
had splendid singing — a real service of song. They 
were a fine lot of men. Captain Caffin suffered very 
much, and, even when recovering, he was very weak ; 
so I advised him, for his own sake, to get on board his 
ship and go right away. I felt sure he would be 
quite well as soon as he had his work to think about. 
It seemed rather mean to hurry a man just recovering 
from fever away from us, but it was just the one thing 
needed to complete the cure, and he was quite well 
again before the Beagle had reached her next port of call 

When the Dayspring called at Dillon's Bay, wilh 

i875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 251 

Mr. and Mrs. Annand on board on their way to Aneit- 
yum, we were all ready for our trip to Cook's Bay, on 
the east coast of our own island. We had long been 
planning a lengthy visit there, and had decided to go 
by this trip of the vessel, and to spend the summer 
months at that east station. Mr. Annand's house, from 
Iririki, that is, the frame, weather-boarding and corru- 
gated iron, was passed over to me for Cook's Bay, 
if I could not get an opening at Portinia Bay, and the 
material was now landed at Dillon's Bay. We had a 
rather rough passage in the Dayspring round to Cook's 
Bay. Captain Braithwaite insisted on towing my fine 
boat, the Yarra- Yarra, instead of taking her on board, 
and put two Erromangans in her to steer her. At dusk, 
it became so stormy that I would not allow the men 
to remain in the boat for fear she should swamp. I 
tried to get the captain to take her on board then, but 
he would not hear of it. During the night he called me 
to say that he was going to cut the boat adrift, that 
she was bumping against the ship and was full of water 
herself. I told him he could do as he liked about that 
now, but as, in the first place, he had refused to carry 
the boat on deck, he must either land her at my station 
or replace her by one just as good. He did not cut 
her adrift. The next day Mrs. Robertson, the two 
children and myself were landed at Cook's Bay, Mr. 
and Mrs. Annand going on shore with us. Crowds of 
natives met us on the beach, and carried our stores and 
other baggage up to the church. It was an enormous 
grass building, and one end of it had been partitioned off 
by a reed wall for our dwelling-house. There was only 
the one room — a big, bare place. The only article of 
furniture when we arrived was a huge, raised bed, made 
of rough poles and bamboo. That first night, Mrs. 
Annand and Mrs. Robertson, with the children, shared 


this wonderful room and bed, while Mr. Annand and I 
vainly tried to sleep on a reed bed placed against the 
open-work wall of the church. Every one that has tried a 
native-made bed, whether of reeds or bamboos, knows 
its unsympathetic nature. First of all, there are heavy 
forked posts driven in to the ground, then a frame- 
work of rough poles is laid on these and firmly tied 
with dried fibre of the pandanus tree. It is on this 
foundation of poles that the reeds or bamboos are 
fastened, very neatly and carefully too ; and now your 
bed is complete, a plaited cocoanut leaf being your only 
mattress. Sometimes a bed such as this will be very 
comfortable ; at other times it seems disposed to kick. 
Your pillow — a bundle of clothes, a basket or two, and 
your hat — is not as soft as feathers, and whichever way 
you turn, there seems to be trouble. The bed itself has 
good points, almost too many of them, and the bamboo 
has an uncomfortable way of creaking at every move. 
If there was only some way of sinking into it, but there 
is not; it is hard and unyielding, and the only remedy 
seems to be in lying still and then dropping off to sleep 
in sheer exhaustion. I put Mr. Annand on the inner 
side of the bed, right against the wall, and took the 
outer side myself. We were not too comfortable, and 
in the early morning it became bitterly cold. We had 
very little covering, and as the wind was whistling 
through the walls we lay awake, shivering, until day- 
light. Annand declared that I put him against the wall 
in order to break the wind off myself, and to escape the 
showers of black sand that came driving in all night 
over his body. Towards morning, Mrs. Robertson 
missed our little " Tissie," as we used to call her, but 
after an anxious minute or two I found her sound asleep 
under our bed. Mr. and Mrs. Annand left us again 

1875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS , 253 

that morning, and soon the Dayspring set sail for the 

As soon as possible we got our groceries, bedding, and 
other gear unpacked, and we began at once to make 
our small dwelling more comfortable. The room was 
nine feet by eleven feet, and I now proceeded to lay a 
rough floor in it. Even that improvement made a 
difference. We got a big field-bed put up, which took 
up quite half the room, and in the clear space at the 
other end Mrs. Robertson placed a small table, a sofa, 
and a rocking-chair. This was all the furniture in it. 
Whenever our breakfast was over, a small sewing- 
machine, with books and writing material, used to occupy 
the table, and the children had the remaining space 
in the room and the big schoolhouse for a play-room. 
It was anything but pleasant for us in the early morning, 
when crowds of dirty men, women and children were 
in the church or school. The smell from their unwashed 
bodies and the swarms of blow-flies made it something 
hard to bear from dawn until about eight o'clock, when 
most of the people were gone away from the school 
premises. And it was always while most of them 
were near by that our breakfast had to be prepared 
and eaten. As soon as Mrs. Robertson and Sampat, 
a young girl who was helping us, got it ready, it was 
quickly taken from the cook-house and pushed in to 
our room through a small window, and the window 
as quickly closed again to keep away the swarming 
blow-flies. I used to dismiss the school and slip through 
to the " dining-room," and our meal had to be eaten 
with almost as much haste as it was brought in. The 
people knew that I intended building a small house for 
ourselves, and I had plenty of willing helpers for this. 
The lime had already been burnt, the rough wood was 
taken from the bush, and the wall-plates and sills were of 



the framework of poor James Gordon's house at Pot- 
numa, which the heathen had pulled down and had 
built into a stockade after the murder. These heavy 
pieces of timber were carried by my young men on 
their shoulders to Cook's Bay, a distance of at least 
seven miles. I intended to build a cottage, twenty-eight 
feet by fourteen feet, of two rooms, and knowing how 
exposed we should be to the strong east wind from 
the ocean, I built everything specially strong, though, 
as it turned out later on, not strong enough to withstand 
a hurricane. The women were busily employed every 
day in plaiting sugar-cane leaf for thatching, while 
numbers of the men carried great poles from the bush, 
of course shouting ^ as they brought them. They 
seemed to have plenty of food, and always provided 
for themselves. They were very generous to us, too, 
in the matter of food. Our midday and evening meals 
were always taken in the big schoolhouse close by ; 
our table was an old tool-chest ; but with a spotless 
table-cloth what did that matter.? A big saucepan full 
of rich, red taro, real Cook's Bay tarof stood on the 
ground beside the " table," and in the evening there 
was nearly always a fine native pudding,^ sent in as a 
present from some one of our people. About those 
puddings we asked no questions^ for the stomach's 
sake, and enjoyed them heartily. " Where ignorance 
is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise," and we never troubled our- 
selves to find out who made them. Since then we have 
been more particular. , 

On Sundays we were fed from the " king's table ". 
Netai, our chief, the great Netai, as he was often called, 
was one of seven brothers — Lifu, Netai Nakam (the 
" great Netai "), Nari, Netai Nesebo, Uluhoi, Nerimpau 
and Novolu Teruvat. All were good friends to the 
Mission, and attended school regularly, but perhaps 

1875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 255 

Netai and Novolu Teruvat were our staunchest helpers. 
Novolu was our teacher at Cook's Bay. He used to 
tell me that when he was at Potnuma and was still a 
heathen, Mr. Gordon was friendly to him,, and tried to 
encourage him to give up heathenism and to take the 
nam, ' the word '. He would say to him, " Novolu, atc- 
kisak," that is, ' strive on ; try for the good '. It has 
always been so pleasing to us to notice the warm love 
and admiration that his teachers and Christian people, 
and even his heathen friends, bore to Mr. Gordon. 
Novolu was a good man, a great help to us in the work, 
and we missed him sorely when he was taken away. 
For many years, Lifu, the eldest, has been the only 
one of the seven brothers who survived ; he died very 
lately, and could not have been less than ninety years 
old at the time. 

On Sundays, as I have said, the "great Netai" him- 
self provided our food. The Cook's Bay River ran just 
beside the spot where we were living, and the chief's 
abode was on the opposite side. He used to swim the 
river, striking out with one hand and holding the food 
well above his head with the other. As we were sitting 
in our room, Netai would bounce in (he never knocked), 
and plump the great pudding down in front of us. And 
it would be a fan ^ pudding, rich and well made. He 
used to dress himself up in rare style, his body oiled 
elaborately, and his hair on one side of his head closely 
shaved and on the other a luxuriant crop. He was a 
fine fellow, but of course most ignorant ; a real heathen, 
but our staunch friend. He had unbounded influence 
over all the surrounding districts, and, as the Gordons 
always regarded Cook's Bay as the " key of the island" 
we had, at the first, intended to settle there. The missiori- 
aries rather opposed this then, as they said it would 
be almost impossible for the Dayspring to call there. 


But I said that that could not be helped ; we had to 
go to the place where there was the best opening for 
the Gospel,, and Cook's Bay was thai place ; that Netai 
wanted us there, and would do much to help us, and 
his influence was too strong to contend against ; that 
it was better to have that influence on our side. At that 
time he had three wives — one quite young, the other 
two older. A young man named Potnilo, a Christian, 
who was attending my classes, and who was already 
married, had another wife sent ^ to him. I told him 
that this would never do ; that he must give her up ; 
and I spoke to Netai about it. The chief agreed with 
me (as Potnilo had taken the nani) ; but, he said, if he 
puts her away she should " remain only " ^ — an ex- 
pression that our people use, meaning that a woman 
should never marry. " If I become a Christian," Netai 
added, " I will send away two of my wives, but I would 
like to see the man that would dare to marry one of 
them." When Netai did become a Christian and was 
baptised, he kept his word ; he sent away two of his 
wives — the two old ones — and I don't think we ever 
heard of any one that wanted to marry them. It was 
quite usual for a man to have several wives ; three was 
regarded as a very moderate number. A young man, 
Nerimpau, a bright, energetic fellow, who was always a 
willing helper, lived near us, and he, though little more 
than a boy, owned two wives, one fairly old,, or at least 
middle-aged, the other a mere girl. The older one, 
we noticed, used to do all the hard work in the planta- 
tion and anything else that her young lord wanted, 
while the young wife, Nial, was evidently just a doll. 
She always did very much as she pleased, and had 
decidedly an easy time of it. 

Cook's Bay is right in the teeth of the trade wind, 

i875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 257 

and, of course, it was always blowing there, and the sea 
rolling in day and night. But there was a great deal 
of fine weather, and when the tide was out we could 
have a delightful walk along the hard, springy shore. 
School was kept up regularly every morning, and in this 
I had Novolu's good assistance. Then, when we were 
busy with the house-building, Mrs. Robertson taught a 
class of young people ; she began this as soon as we were 
settled there, and had a number of bright young girls 
and boys in the class. The attendance at all of these 
classes and at the church services was exceptionally 
good. On Sundays the great grass church, one hundred 
feet long, was literally crammed with people, some 
being out of heathenism, others still in it, but friendly. 
Of course, the old people did not know one letter from 
another, but they religiously opened their books and 
held them, often upside down, during the entire service. 
With all their difficulties and discomforts we have often 
said that we never had happier months than those four 
that we spent at Cook's Bay. We were both young 
and strong, and rather enjoyed roughing it. We still 
have a little old wooden table that nothing would induce 
Mrs. Robertson to part with, for it is a memento of the 
old days there. It was made out of old boxes, the feet 
out of an old oar, and, when finished, was painted with 
a mixture made of red clay and oil. We took it round 
with us to Cook's Bay, where it had to be mended, 
having almost come to pieces during the passage. 

The people were hearty and lovable, and all that 
district seemed such a splendid field for work. It was 
the people on the east side of Erromanga, not the west, 
and chiefly the people of Cook's Bay, who were our 
earliest and firmest friends, and we could never forget 
them. On most Sunday afternoons, the teacher Novolu 
Teruvat and I, with our Christian young men and some- 


times friendly half-heathen helpers (I often had our 
" great Netai " with me), used to go in opposite directions 
to the surrounding villages, here and there speaking 
to the people and having hymns and prayers with them. 
Almost every day there came great crowds of visitors 
from both sides of the bay, from Norowo's land and from 
Portinia Bay. We used to see them in the distance, 
and Netai would point to them coming, and say, " Misi, 
ovun nevias, 'the clothed are coming'." Being friendly 
natives, and some of them Christian, they were nearly 
always clothed. Those from the districts south of 
Cook's Bay were a fine-looking people, big men and 
tall, strapping women. Netai would introduce each 
newcomer, and, with a thump on their shoulders for 
encouragement, say, " Misi, si moniu natemenok, ' here 
is another chief." Of course, they were a// chiefs. 

After we had been about two months there the Day- 
spring returned, anchoring near Potnariven, in Portinia 
Bay. I heard of it, and at once started for that village. 
When I reached it, I found that the chief officer, Mr. 
Macintosh, had been ashore, had landed the mails and 
returned to the ship, leaving word that he would come 
in again at daylight for our letters. I wrote to the 
captain for spun yarn, which I needed badly for the 
house, and then returned to Cook's Bay, a distance of 
four miles, by torchlight, getting there about ten o'clock. 
Mrs. Robertson and I wrote till very early in the morn- 
ing; then, after a cup of tea, I set out again for 
Potnariven. Just as I reached the crest of the hill 
overlooking the bay, I met Mr. Macintosh, looking very 
tired and carrying a box. I asked him why he had not 
opened it, for it must have been very heavy. It turned 
out to be a lamp, which we were needing, and were 
glad to have. I got the spun yarn from him, gave our 

i875— A YEAR OF SUCCESS 259 

letters, and we said good-bye. The Daysfring then 
left for Sydney, and I returned to Cook's Bay. 

We pushed on with the building now, and after being 
three months in the grass hut we moved into our new 
two-roomed cottage, which seemed very sweet and com- 
modious after the long weeks of camp-life. The people 
around us were eager to learn, and many of them were 
true followers of Christ. Everything seemed hopeful, 
and we were now comfortably settled in our new house, 
but unfortunately our little boy took very ill, suffering 
severely from fever and ague. He became so weak that 
at one time we feared he could not live, and we felt that 
it would be wrong to stay there longer than until the 
return of the vessel. It would have been wiser even to 
have returned overland to Dillon's Bay, but we wanted 
to hold on as long as we could, and so awaited the arrival 
of the Dayspring. We were exactly four months at the 
east station, and have always felt that our visit to Cook's 
Bay was the means of doing a great deal of good among 
our people on that side of the island. 



During our stay at Cook's Bay, I managed to visit a 
number of the districts round us, being accompanied by 
Novolu and Sempent, our teacher at Potnariven, and 
others of our fine young men. One of these journeys 
was to Imbongkor, about fifteen miles to the south, in 
order to visit Nokilian and his brother N5vwal, the 
high chiefs of that particular district. Niyau was teacher 
there at the time. Netai and Nokesam were with me 
on this occasion. We spent a night with these two 
brother-chiefs. How lavishly they provided for us all — 
pigs, fowls, fish, taro and yams ^ were cooked in abund- 
ance ; my share was a very nice fowl, yams, and a rich 
pudding. After this meal we had a supper of tea, bread 
and fruit of all kinds. Then Netai and Nokesam 
" talked " the Gospel into the chiefs and their people, 
and tried to frighten heathenism out of them! I was 
lying down in the little hut that my teacher had 
specially built for me. I was too weary to sleep, even 
if my bed had had fewer sharp sticks and reeds like 
saw-files in it, and I was so interested and amused by 
the flashes of wit on both sides (for I could hear every 
word that was said), the many good points as well as 
absurd statements made by Netai and Nokesam, that, 
had I been on a bed of down, I would have tried to keep 
awake. The two evangelists talked on till midnight, 
then sang a hymn, followed by a short prayer by one 

. (260; 


of them ; something Uke a wild snort for " Amen " was 
the last sound I heard ; and then they were all fast 

The next morning we had a big meeting of the chiefs 
and people in the church. After I had addressed them 
all, I called upon Netai and Nokesam, as my " friends " 
in this work, to speak. They both spoke — Nokesam 
first, and then Netai ; fortunately their words were brief. 
From that day to the day of their death I never asked 
those two good but wofully ignorant men to address a 
gathering in a church. If Nokesam spoke folly and 
madness, poor Netai's words were far more than that. 
It hurt me so that I went over to him and suggested 
that we should have a hymn or two, after which he would 
pray. I knew I was quite safe in asking that ; he was 
reverent and correct in prayer. I suppose the words of 
prayer were memorised by hearing the teacher so often. 
Though, for the matter of that, there is scarcely a native 
on the island who cannot engage in prayer at a mo- 
ment's notice, and with remarkable fluency. After 
Netai's prayer, I closed the meeting with a few words 
of encouragement to those who were striving to lead a 
new life, and exhorted the chiefs to show their people 
an example of Christian chieftainship. That same 
evening we returned as far as Nokesam's land, and the 
following day Netai and I arrived at home, the men with 
us carrying loads of fowls, taro and yams, all of which 
were presents from the chiefs to the mission family. 

I had purposed that, as I was fairly near it, I would try 
and have Mr. Gordon's grave properly attended to and 
a strong stone wall built round it for protection. So I 
sent word to Nahng Puruput, the teacher at Potnuma, 
to get his people to burn a kiln of lime, and I would 
pay them for it ; this he promptly attended to. One 


morning we started on our errand, a number of young 
men, as well as several chiefs and old men, being of the 
party. These latter were Nokesam, Netai, Uluhoi and 
Woris. The walk from Cook's Bay to Potnuma was 
seven miles, and as soon as we arrived there we set some 
of our party to work to cut down trees and the scrub, 
clearing the ground a space of about fifty square feet 
around the grave. While the younger men were doing 
this, the older ones were carrying up to me the lime 
and sand that I might mix the mortar. Naling and his 
people were busy preparing food for us all. By working 
hard from about ten in the morning till sundown, we had 
the ground well cleared and a substantial concrete wall, 
about two feet thick, built right round the grave in the 
form of the letter " G ". We also cut a rough road 
from the grave to the shore. Our work over, we went 
to the sea-shore, and camped just beside the stream, 
where Naling had the piping-hot food all spread out on 
green cocoanut leaves. I asked a blessing on the food, 
and then told my party that they had better tie it all 
up and eat it as we walked home, for darkness was 
coming on and we had a weary tramp before us. I 
thanked Naling and his people, and gave him the charge 
of keeping the grave well tended. This he did faith- 
fully as long as he was teacher at Potnuma. We had 
not gone a mile along the shore when I felt so tired 
that I could not keep up any longer, but threw myself 
down on the black sand and went fast asleep. They 
soon roused me, fearing that I might catch cold, as my 
clothes were soaked with wet. Seldom have I been 
more fatigued. Some one may ask, " What about the 
men, then ? were they not also tired as you ? " Yes, the 
yoiing men lucve tired ; they had worked well ; but like 
all natives, took good care to sit down frequently and 
rest and eat food. As for the old men, a spurt of an 


hour or so satisfied them, and the rest of the time they 
were busy sleeping and drinking cocoanuts. As we 
walked along the road, the young men gathered old, dry 
cocoanut leaves, and quickly twisted and tied them in 
long rolls for torches, which were soon needed. These 
dry leaves make excellent torches. No white man can 
carry and trim them as a native can, and when a crowd 
of two or three hundred people are passing, as I have 
often seen them, in single file along a winding moun- 
tain path, every tenth man, perhaps, brandishing one 
of these blazing faggots, the effect is most picturesque. 
By ten o'clock that night we arrived at Cook's Bay, 
all as wearied as we cared to be, and I, myself, too 
tired to eat. But, after a wash and a good long rest, I 
felt quite ready for the cosy supper that Mrs. Robertson 
had made ready; it was the first food I had eaten for 
about eighteen hours. 

Before our house was quite finished, I met with a 
painful accident. I was cutting rafters one morning ; 
Nofon was holding the wood, and managed somehow 
to let it slip. I brought the adze down with a slashing 
blow on my leg, and the blood literally spouted out. 
Poor Nofon was miserable and full of remorse over his 
share in the accident. Besides the great pain, it kept 
me back from my work and I was able to do almost 
nothing for a long time. 

That same afternoon word came from Potnuma that 
the heathen had killed Naling Puruput, our teacher. 
The poor fellow used to take fits of insanity, but when 
these were over he was as right as any man. From what 
we heard, his mind seemed quite to have given way 
now. Fortunately, it turned out that the report was 
exaggerated. Naling was not killed, though he had 
been severely wounded. His friends had sent tor me, 


but of course I was helpless and could scarcely move ; 
so I could only do my best by sending healing appliances 
and plenty of nourishing food. We afterwards learned 
that, when his mind became affected, he believed that 
he had been commanded to stop heathenism everywhere. 
He took with him Bonkora, a poor-looking, gawkish 
fellow, and some other companions, and went first to 
interview some old men at a village near by. He told 
them that if they did not give up heathenism he would 
shoot them ! They were so frightened that they pro- 
mised anything, and made him a present of two pigs. 
He next reached a feasting-ground where yams had been 
tied up to poles in preparation for a feast. Naling cut 
everything away, and passed on to the next village, 
Sumprim, his followers increasing all the time. I sup- 
pose a number of them went out of sheer curiosity to 
see what he would do next. At Sumprim he cut down 
all the yams belonging to the young chief, who was 
roused at once into anger. By this time Naling was 
exhausted ; he had walked a long distance, and had 
been busy all the time, but when the young chief came 
in a rage to the sinimi-Io^ in the public square, where 
he was resting, Naling sprang to his feet, saying : " I 
am glad to see some one who is worthy of me ; the rest 
are cowards ; come here, my friend, and we will set-to ". 
The young man had both an axe and a spear ; Naling's 
only weapon was a rough stick, but he had been a 
splendid fighter in his young days, and had no fear now. 
He parried all the blows of his assailant, and at last, 
with a dexterous grip, broke his axe-handle. Then he 
gave the man a good hiding with his switch. Suddenly 
he turned his back on him, and covered his face. The 
poor fellow was quite confused and scarcely knew what 
he was doing, but his cowardly foe, who had been 
thoroughly beaten, flew for another axe, and in another 


second had given Naling a deep blow, cutting right into 
the muscles of his back. Naling said : " Go on ; I am 
not afraid ". The man then, fearing that he had mor- 
tally wounded him, made off for his life, but one of 
Naling's friends, Nokilian, ran after him, caught him, 
and would have killed him, but Naling forbade it. 
Nokilian tied Hrnves leaves on the wound, and the in- 
jured man, leaning on his friend's arm, managed to walk 
home. He had the pluck of a dozen men. He got 
well again, but, of course, I had to take him away from 
that place. 

It was this same man, Naling, who, a long time after 
this, was our goat-herd at Dillon's Bay. When well, he 
was most painstaking, and gave every satisfaction. He 
was full of fun — a ready wit. On one occasion we had 
gone to spend some months at Potnariven (Portinia Bay), 
and were still away when poor Naling, it seems, became 
queer again. He turned the goats out at two o'clock in 
the morning, and then walked across and rang the 
church bell. When at last he managed to wake the 
people that morning, he told them that it was high time 
they were all up, and insisted on their going to church. 
He himself went up into the pulpit to address them. 
However, Atnelo, the teacher, persuaded him to come 
down from that, and told him that, if he chose, he might 
stand on the floor and speak to them. Atnelo said to 
us that the poor man talked utter foolishness, and yet 
seemed highly pleased with himself. 

Later in the day, seeing that the natives were closely 
watching him, he was clever enough to know that they 
suspected him of trying to set fire to the Mission 
premises, and, highly insulted, he took up his battle-axe 
and went straight to Unova, his own land (on the east 
side of the island), and made things generally lively 
there. I felt sure that I could manage him, and was 


glad when one day later on he showed face, having come 
specially to see us. Poor fellow! though quite out of 
his mind at the time, he seemed to realise that he had 
been behaving badly, and had evidently come to explain 
matters. When he appeared at the door of the room 
where we were sitting, Mrs. Robertson, who was nearest, 
rose to shake hands with him. Scarcely looking at her, 
Naling pompously waved her aside, then walked along 
and knelt down in front of me, his head touching the 
ground, all the time shaking one foot at Mrs. Robertson 
to make her keep at a respectful distance. 

His position was too ludicrous, yet we fortunately man- 
aged to keep our countenances. But it was too much 
for some of the young people who saw it, and they 
foolishly teased the poor man. Nauvi, however, had the 
good sense to insist on their leaving him alone. 

On a later day, when I was preparing to go to Unova, 
our people begged me to take Naling with me. " You 
can manage him, Misi," they said ; " we can't." He 
seemed quite right again for a little, until one time he 
slipped away from the men with whom he had been 
walking, and put his arm round a young girl's neck. 
Of course, this would never do ; the girl screamed, and 
her friends were angry, but we managed to get him 
back with us, and all was right until we entered the 
bush at Potnuma. Here Naling suggested a diversion. 
" Look here ! Mr. Robertson," he said ; " suppose you 
and I give these people an English song." And he 
began roaring a wild thing that was neither English 
nor Erromangan, and even though I might have wanted 
to help, I had to confess my inability to do so. Both 
music and words were far beyond me. He was swing- 
ing in his hand a very pretty little club, and presently, 
catching sight of a snake, killed it with a single blow. 
He took it up by the tail, whirled it round his head. 


and threw it into the bush, then broke his club in two 
and sent the pieces after the snake. Then, with a 
merry twinkle in his eye, he turned to me : " Now, Misi, 
I have killed the Devil; you will have no more trouble 
from him ". 

By the time we reached Un5va, Naling was pretty 
much exhausted, but seemed quite sane, and that night 
he slept well. The next morning he took another fit. 
I was returning to Potnariven, and Bonkor and the 
other people at Un5va hoped that Naling would go too. 
They were afraid of having him there lest the heathen 
might revenge themselves on him. When I spoke to 
Naling about it, he said : " If they kill me, they kill 
me on my own land. I have no fear. They will shed 
my blood on my own soil and my father's soil. You 
go home, Misi ; I will stay here ; I dare them to touch 
me." Then Bonkor, looking as stupid and ungainly 
as he could, walked up to Naling, and used all his 
persuasive eloquence to get him to return with me. In 
the middle of his speech a great lout of a dog appeared 
on the scene. Naling gave one look at Bonkor, his eyes 
flashing, then clenched his fist, and with one blow sent 
the dog howling into the bush. I burst into roars of 
laughter. And that stupid Bonkor, whom one would 
expect to take this as a warning, actually went up to 
speak again. He was wearing an enormous Queensland 
hat, which did not improve his appearance, for he was 
one of the most gawkish-looking fellows I have ever 
seen. Naling gave him a contemptuous look, then 
suddenly rose, snatched the hat from the side of his 
head, gave him a smart clout on the ear, and sent the 
hat where he had sent the dog a minute before. 

I said : " Come now, Naling, the man that could give 
a blow like that and send a dog flying over everybody's 
heads into the bush is the man for me. 1 have a bao- 


here that I would not trust any one with but you; I 
want it carried safely to Potnariven." 

" All right, Misi," he said, and without a moment's 
delay snatched up the bag and was off. He took the 
lead, shouting and singing as he walked. Then all of 
a sudden he stopped, and twisting the bag into the 
air he threw it from him, and then sat down on the sand. 
" You go on," he said ; " I am going to stop here." 
" Very well," I replied ; " just as you please ; but be sure 
you don't forget that bag when you come. I don't 
want any one but you to carry it." Without a word he 
rushed into the scrub, picked up the bag, and clutching 
it tightly in his arms, set off again, never stopping to 
look round once. By the time we reached Potnariven 
he was as fresh as a trout, and his mind quite clear again. 

On the very morning that the Dayspring hove in 
sight on her return from Sydney, just as we were having 
family worship, we heard a great noise of angry voices 
outside our house. I sprang to my feet, and was out in 
a moment. I found old Lifu struggling to free himself 
from some men who were holding him and calling out, 
" Nate.' nate! 'father!' don't." He was swinging his 
battle-axe round his head and shouting, " Let me get at 
him, the natenias'' while his worthy son was pointing his 
gun anywhere within twenty feet of his father, and say- 
ing : " Come on here, you fellow ; / have something 
ready for you ". Both men were trembling with anger 
and weakness, and the bystanders, who could have 
carried both away easily, were making matters worse 
by holding them and calling " Don't, don't ! " I shoved 
them off, and led poor old Lifu, who was a rank heathen, 
into the house, and made him sit down ; then, leaving 
him in Mrs. Robertson's care, I darted out to his son, a 
professing Christian, and ordered him to give up the 


gun instantly, and to sit down and stay there until I 
inquired into the cause of the trouble. Leaving several 
men with young Lifu I went into our house again. Mrs. 
Robertson had made some tea for old Lifu, but his 
hands were trembling so that he could not hold the 
bowl. So I took it from him, and, while I fed him 
with bread and tea, I managed to learn from him the 
cause of the disturbance. 

It was this : The son had borrowed his father's rifle, 
and had left it in his own house while he went to work 
in his plantation. Some little children had carelessly 
kindled a fire near that house, and were roasting yams 
and bread-fruit. Soon the grass hut caught fire, and 
before anything could bedone was burned to the ground. 
Of course the gun was ruined, and, as compensation, 
Lifu determined to take his son's life. The story was 
confirmed by all the men who were outside. Lifu 
added: "I will not kill my son now, because of my love 
for you two (Mrs. Robertson and myself); I do not 
want to grieve your hearts". (Then aside, as if speaking 
to himself, "Oh! who will give me nice food and hot 
tea when they are gone? ") "But as soon as you leave 
and reach Umbongkora (Dillon's Bay), I will kill him." 
Our time was precious, a human life more so, and I 
promised before them all that if he, Lifu, the old chief, 
would take a vow (by cutting a sapling, etc., more siio) 
not to harm his son nor any other person, nor destroy 
property, I would get Captain Braithwaite to buy him a 
good, new, double-barrelled gun. He kept his vow, 
and I kept my word, and on the Dayspring s return from 
New Zealand the following trip, Lifu got his new gun. 
When I gave it to him, all his anger had spent itself, 
and, being amiably disposed to the Mission, he, by 
deed, gifted a fine bit of land for a church and school- 


house in a better and less exposed position than where 
the church had stood. 

The Dayspring s boat, with the second officer and a 
crew of four white men, had come in for us ; the Day- 
spring herself was miles out at sea, and soon it was 
time for us to leave. From our anxiety over the 
disturbance between Lifu and his son, neither Mrs. 
Robertson nor I had been able to eat much ; the 
children, especially Gordon, were suffering with fever, 
and everything seemed against us. We were taking 
with us to Dillon's Bay a dear old man named Nerimpau, 
who had been most kind to us during our stay, had 
been to see us every day, and had never come empty, 
handed. We all had reason to remember that weary 
morning in the boat. If the mate had not been as 
stubborn and heartless as a heathen Erromangan, he 
would have ordered his men to strike sail and pull us 
to the ship, which could easily have been done in two 
or three hours. Instead of this, with a big cargo boat, 
and without a jib or any head-sail, he tried to beat out 
against a considerable sea, and the wind dead ahead. 
I suggested his taking down the sail and pulling, offer- 
ing to take an oar myself, as my wife and children 
were suffering. But as there was a sail there it must 
be up, not because it was of any use, but because it 
was a boat-sail. He sat there abusing the captain, say- 
ing he should have brought the vessel right into the 
bay instead of fooling about half-way to Aniwa. 

I said : " You are right, every other vessel comes 
right in; but she has not come in, and what we have to 
do now is to get to her. You will never get there as 
you are now doing, trying to beat against such a wind 
and sea as this and with only a standing lug-sail." I 
could bear it no longer; our poor children's little arms 


were covered with huge blisters from the scorching sun, 
and they and their mother were worn-out and miser- 
able. Poor old Nerimpau was sea-sick, I said : "I ask 
you once more to take down that sail and pull us to the 
vessel, or my child will die. If you refuse, I demand 
to be put ashore again. I won't stand this another 
minute." There was no response to that, and then I 
turned to Chessell, an old man-o*-war sailor, who was 
twitching about in pent-up wrath at the mate's conduct, 
and said : " Mr. Chessell, you are a brave man and a 
gentleman; can you suffer this cruelty to my wife and 
children to continue ? " Quick as lightning old Chessell 
sprang to his feet. " Down sail ! down mast ! now 
out with your oars and into your seats," dropping 
into his own seat as he spoke ; he was stroke. " Now, 
boys 1 give way, and let us get on board with this lady 
and her sick children. I beg your pardon, sir," as, 
getting firmly seated and making a long sweep with his 
oar, he kicked the mate on the shin ; "very sorry, sir ! " 
Soon the old boat began to go ahead. We reached the 
Dayspring at two o'clock in the afternoon, and in the 
only way we could get there in that boat — by rowing, 
and that with our might. 

When we got alongside, I was nearly as annoyed with 
the captain for giving us such a long pull as I was with 
the mate for adding to the time, making it six hours 
when three would have been enough. Captain Braith- 
waite took in the whole situation, sprang to help Mrs. 
Robertson and the children out of the boat, and called 
to the steward for mattresses and pillows. These and 
a basin of warm water and towels were at once brought, 
and the captain hurried away to get soothing applica- 
tions for the poor blistered arms. Soon we were all 
comfortably settled on deck, and Captain Braithwaite, 
knowing well a missionary's longing for home news. 


smoothed away my last feelings of resentment by bring- 
ing forward a huge mail bag, filled with letters and 
papers, which he poured out on the deck beside us. 
Who could help being fond of that man? At times 
he would just belch out at some of us, storming away 
as if he would take the roof off our heads, or, as I 
suppose it would be more in keeping to say, the deck 
from under our feet. But in a very short time, his an- 
noyance over, he could not do enough to make up for 
the outburst, and would be talking away cheerily to the 
very ones he had been assailing right and left a minute 
before. With Captain Braithwaite there were squalls — 
thundery ones, too, now and again — but they were 
sharp and soon over. 

Before long the Daysprittg was lying calmly at anchor 
in Dillon's Bay ; we were home again, and all our 
troubles forgotten — blotted out by kindness. How 
beautifully neat and clean our house here looked! Our 
faithful old Ohai had taken such care of everything. 
The rooms seemed enormous, and the house a palace 
after our tiny cottage at Cook's Bay. We were grate- 
ful, indeed, to be back again. 

In January of the next year, 1876, a month after our 
return to Dillon's Bay, Novolu Teruvat paid a long- 
promised visit to the fierce, heathen people of Unepang. 
He could safely go there on account of his relationship 
to some of them. I fancy his mother was an Unepang 
woman, and I know that two of Netai's wives were 
from that district. He saw the chiefs and people, spcke 
to them of the nam,^ of Christ and His love for them 
and tried to get them to promise to take a teacher. 
Again and again this good man walked over those rough 
hills to see his heathen friends. And later, several of 
the Christian chiefs from the west side of the island 


visited Unepang, among them Avoli, the chief of Ram- 
punumunehasau, and Uven, the chief of Rampunumo. 
These friendly visits were returned by Nahal, one of 
the principal chiefs of the district round South River, 
and very soon the way seemed to open up for the placing 
of a teacher at Unarevin, a village about a mile north of 
South River. Had we been fortunate in obtaining a 
good man for that village, the results of his settlement 
would have been apparent to this day, but Avoli Namli, 
the teacher, had no heart for his work. He got into 
disputes with the people, and at last one day, gathering 
his odds and ends together, he and his wife left Unarevin 
and returned home. 

For about two years after, we were not able to fill 
the vacancy. However, during 1879, the way seemed 
to be opening up again. With a party of eighty men, 
I went to Rampunumo, had a good reception there, 
and placed a teacher named L6v5 among the people. 
We were to spend the night at the village, and intended 
the next day to pass on to Unarevin and settle there 
Umo, a fine young man, who had been attending my 
class for some time and who gave every evidence of 
being a sincere Christian. At Rampunumo I was inter- 
ested in seeing a feature of Erromangan etiquette. 
Though we had been well received by the chiefs Uven 
and his brother Uvsori, most of the people all around 
were heathen, and not always to be trusted. However, 
they busied themselves in getting and preparing food 
for our party, and the women were sent to the planta- 
tions to bring cocoanut, tainpoli,^ dau^ and several other 
requisites for cooking. Our men were sitting in a circle 
chatting together, when one of them caught sight of 
the women returning. At a sign from him every man 
rose. They stood shoulder to shoulder, with their backs 
to the road, looking neither to the right nor left, and 


in perfect silence kept in that position till the women 
with their huge bundles 'and sweeping skirts had passed 
them all. Then, as quickly, they seated themselves, 
and went on with their talk as if nothing had interrupted 
them. This custom was evidently to prevent jealousy 
arising ; unless he looked over his shoulder, no man 
could possibly see the women, and therefore could have 
no fear of rousing the anger of their husbands and 

During the whole night we were at Rampunumo some 
of our party kept watch, for fear of a surprise from the 
heathen. The following morning we prepared to say 
good-bye to Lovo, and the chiefs who had taken him 
under their protection, and to set out for Unarevin. 
But just a little before we were to start, a man named 
Umas, a friendly heathen, who lived very near Unarevin, 
arrived with a present for me of two yams and ^plucked 
living fowl. I thanked him for his kind thoughtfulness, 
but spoke to him very strongly of the cruelty of pluck- 
ing a fowl before it was killed. He gave a peculiar 
smile, but made no reply. Later on I spoke to Naling, 
the chief of Dillon's Bay, about it. " Ko sugku igko, 
' so it is done here,' " was his answer. And then, seeing 
that I still suspected nothing, he gave me a sharp glance, 
saying : " Misi, si sie si, ' there is something,' " — there is 
more in this than you see. It was not long then till I 
knew that mischief was being plotted ; the heathen of 
the districts near Unarevin were determined to prevent 
us going there at any cost. Umas, in honour, could not 
betray his own people, but had taken this way to let 
me know what would befall me. The plucked but living 
fowl was a warning ; so would they do to me if I ven- 
tured into their land. I had no opportunity of thanking 
the man ; he was gone, and, as he had planned, without 
speaking a word of warning. 


Though Naling had himself explained the danger 
to me, he was indignant when I told him we would 
return to Dillon's Bay, taking Umo with us. He was 
no coward, and was fuming at what seemed to him our 
weakness in giving in to the heathen. " Who are 
they ? " he said ; " how dare they stop us ? " I said, 
" Naling, my friend ! it is their land, not ours ; and 
they have a perfect right to refuse to let us enter it; 
we are not going to force the Gospel down their throats ". 

The day after we returned to Dillon's Bay, we were 
followed by Nalial, the chief of Unarevin, who was very 
angry with the heathen for preventing his teacher going 
to him. We could easily have taken Umo in the boat 
and placed him with Nalial in spite of our enemies, 
but I thought it wrong to anger them ; we would have 
been doing what our people call tantivi nipmi, ' cutting 
their faces off,' which means showing them insult and 
daring them. 

However, during the following year we were allowed, 
much to our joy, to settle Umo there. At first he had 
very little help or sympathy, but he gradually won his 
way into the hearts of the people. They could not 
fail to notice his earnest devotion to his Master ; his 
gentle, Christian character endeared him to us all, and 
we felt that we could not have had a better man at that 
dangerous post. He had been at Unarevin for about 
two years, and had come for a short visit to Dillon's 
Bay. Mrs. Lawrie*' and Mrs. Braithwaite were staying 
with us at the time ; it was the beginning of September. 
Umo took the prayer meeting that week, and though, 
of course, they could not understand a word of it, both 
ladies were charmed with his earnest and eloquent 
address. Our natives are rarely eloquent^ but we have 
known two or three very striking exceptions, and Umo 
was one. The day after the prayer meeting he left us, 


and went on to Rampuntampent to dig up yams that 
he had planted, intending to go on to Unarevin the 
next morning. 

Meanwhile, the labour vessel "^ Ceara, Captain Satine, 
had appeared off Unoras, further to the south, and 
two boats were sent ashore. One, in charge of a 
white man, beached on the south bank of the river, 
while the other, in charge of a Tanna man, drew in to 
the north bank. The Tanna man asked some natives 
who were standing near if he might get out to drink 
water. They said, " Yes, you are quite safe ; see," 
pointing to the schoolhouse, " Misi comes here ".^ The 
man jumped out, passed a group of women sitting on 
the shore, and stooped down by the river bank as if 
to drink water, but drank none. He then made a spring 
back to where the women were and tried to catch a 
young girl, Utokota. She slipped away from him, and 
he stumbled on the shore ; but, as he fell, seeing a man 
named YaHmyau standing near, he fired at and wounded 
him. He then made another dash for the girl, who in 
terror was calling "Nate, nate !"^ He managed to get hold 
of her, and dragged her screaming into the boat. Lovo, 
her father, who had heard his child's pitiful cries, at 
this moment rushed to the boat and, trembling with 
anger, demanded his daughter back. He was pushed 
aside, and, seeing that all his talking was useless, he 
caught up (and who could blame him ?) a heavy stone 
and aimed it at his enemy. At once the scoundrel 
ordered his men to fire, and in an instant poor Lovo 
was shot dead, right before his daughter's eyes. What 
agony of grief and fear that poor girl must have suffered ! 
The boat was at once shoved off, and was well out of 
range before the alarm could be raised on shore. 
Meanwhile the other boat had managed to get a young 


boy, we never knew whether by fair means or foul. 
Some distance from the shore the two boats met ; the 
young girl was lifted into the white man's boat, which 
rowed straight to the ship. 

The other boat came down the coast, passed Bunkil, 
and pulled in to a place about four miles from Dillon's 
Bay, near the very spot where our poor teacher Umo 
was busy at his work. With Sorenau, a friend of his, 
he was putting up the scaffolding for storing his yams, but 
when they caught sight of the boat they proceeded to 
go down to the shore and meet it, as they wanted tobacco. 
Umo also carried a hawk which he had just caught, and 
thought he might sell it to the strangers. When quite 
near, Sorenau said he would not go quite up to the boat, 
but gave Umo a bow and arrows which he was carrying, 
asking him to try and sell them for him. Umo walked 
up to the bows of the boat ; it was then half-tide, and 
the boat was in fairly deep water, but quite close to 
the shore. The Tanna man walked along to the bows, 
and asked Umo what he wanted for his bird and the 
bow and arrows. He answered : " I want tobacco ". 
The man then stooped down, picked up five sticks of 
tobacco and held them out. Umo, all unsuspecting, put 
out his hand, which was grabbed fiercely. The poor 
fellow struggled to get free, but all hope was gone. 
The Tanna man pulled out his revolver and shot him 
in the side. His victim fell right into the water, but 
was up in an instant, and made a plunge for the rocks ; 
but the murderer jumped out of the boat and after him, 
firing several shots as he ran. He need not have done 
so ; the first shot was the fatal one, and in a few seconds 
our poor Umo lay dying. As he pulled off his boat 
again, the Tanna man flung out on the shore the five 
sticks of tobacco. 

Sorenau came on to us in great grief the same day. 


What a shock the news of this dastardly murder gave 
us! It seemed hard that one whom we all loved so 
much, and who during his life had shown such gentle, 
Christ-like devotion to his work, should be taken from 
us, murdered, and by one of a crew belonging to an 
English ship! Sorenau told us nothing of the tragedy 
at Unepang ; he knew nothing of it ; so there could 
have been no connection between the two. 

The ship had already passed us, but I felt sure that 
when he heard of the murder, Captain Satine would turn 
back. I could not but think that he would be horrified 
and indignant, and that he would do his best to atone. 
At daylight next morning, with forty men, I left in the 
Yarra- Yarra for the scene of the tragedy. We had 
scarcely stepped ashore, when Watata found five sticks 
of tobacco lying close together near the rocks. I stood 
by the spot where Umo had died ; there were still blood- 
marks everywhere, and the ground all round had been 
torn up by the poor man in his death agonies. The 
wound was a terrible one. We went up to the village, 
where the body was lying, about two hundred people, 
principally heathen, sitting round it wailing. I said to 
Mrs. Robertson afterwards how thankful I felt at the 
time that these people, though heathen, never for one 
moment blamed us, the Christian party, for what had 
happened ; they knew well that their grief was ours 
also. Still I felt keenly that the murder had been com- 
mitted by men from a British vessel. To the native 
mind^° this would mean the same as if the white men 
had done the deed. 

We had a short service, and amid the deepest and most 
heartfelt grief of all his friends we buried our dear, 
faithful Umo. When I returned to Dillon's Bay, I was 
surprised to hear from Mrs. Robertson that there had 
been no sign of the Ceara ; the captain had not returned 


and evidently had no intention of doing so. We heard 
afterwards that she went in to Ehzabeth Bay. The 
chief, NaHnewe, knowing nothing of what had taken 
place, went on board, but saw neither the boy nor the 
poor girl who had been stolen at Unoras. He said 
they must, have been kept under the hatches. We had 
by this time heard of the affair at Unoras, and were 
shocked to find that a double tragedy had taken place 
on that day. These murders for a time destroyed all 
our work in the Unepang district, and did serious harm 
to the Mission on Erromanga. Everything was in con- 
fusion again, and it was many a long day before we were 
allowed to settle another teacher at Unarevin. 

When in Sydney, a month or two later, I wrote a 
short statement of what had taken place, and gave it to 
Captain (now Rear-Admiral) Bridge, who at once for- 
warded it to the Admiral. The next day Captain Bridge 
told me that the Admiral wanted a full account of the 
murders, with dates and the names of all concerned ; 
this I was able to write before leaving for the home 
country. When in England, soon after, I attended a 
meeting of the Committee (in connection with the 
Admiralty) which presided over affairs in the Western 
Pacific. Sir Arthur Gordon was in the chair, and Rear- 
Admirals Hoskins and Wilson, the latter of whom I had 
already met, were also present. After answering a 
number of questions relating to our islands and to the 
labour traffic, I mentioned the case of the Ceara at Erro- 
manga. I was asked to write another statement of the 
whole affair, and assured that the murders would be 
fully inquired into. I heard afterwards that Captain 
Satine was dismissed from the labour traffic. As to 
his conduct in the affair, no one could for one moment 
hold him responsible for the murders ; but surely he 
was deeply to blame for not, when he heard of them 


(which he must have done), returning at once to Dillon's 
Bay and doing all in his power to atone for the awful 
deeds. It was a man in his employ who was the author 
of the tragedy, and as no reparation, no acknowledg- 
ment of it even, was made by the captain, we held him 
responsible for what had been done. 



On the 22nd of March, 1877, our island was visited by 
one of the most frightsome and destructive hurricanes 
we have ever known, accompanied by heavy floods 
wherever there were streams or rivers. The storm had 
been brewing for some days, and, when the great sea- 
birds began to fly to the land for shelter, we feared that 
it might grow wild, though we had no anticipation that 
it would prove so disastrous as it did. It was about 
midnight on the fourth day that it reached its height. 
It was the sea that we dreaded most, but, in a little, 
Yomot came rushing in, crying : " The river ! The river 
is coming ; run, Misi, for your lives ; give me the child ! " 
We ran, without ever stopping, straight back from our 
house until we reached a great rock on the hillside. 
Here we took shelter from the cold, drenching rain. 
We could hear the noise of the wind and sea, and — 
what sounded far worse — the awful roar of the swollen 
river as it rushed past our house. We were uncomfort- 
able in our rough shelter, as it was very much exposed. 
Our little Tissie was sitting beside me, her lips and face 
blue with the cold, the rain dripping from the rock 
on to her head. She understood Erromangan better 
than English, and I said, '' Atekisah, Tissie! 'strive on, 
Tissie ! ' " keep up your heart. " Yes," she answered, 
her teeth chattering ; and the poor child did keep up 
bravely throughout it all. 



When the storm seemed to have lessened a little, 
Mrs. Robertson and I ventured down the hill, and Wa- 
tata very kindly gave up his house to us for the time. 
We made fires, and Mrs. Robertson put the children 
to sleep and tried to get a little rest herself. I found 
my way over to the store-room of our own house, and 
managed to get some dry blankets. But the smoke 
in kind Watata's house was almost suffocating, and none 
of us were very comfortable there, though it was very 
much better to be there than out in the storm. 

In the morning, with some of the men, I went to our 
house to see what could be done. One room was 
blown to the ground, and a great deal of the thatch 
was off the roof on the east side. We actually could not 
get into the house, until the men cut and dragged away 
the trees and huge branches that had fallen everywhere. 
The rooms were in a woful state, with mud and leaves 
inches thick on the floors. Things seemed hopelessly 
ruined. However, we set to work at once and tackled 
one room. The men cleared away all the mud and 
rubbish ; then we heated plenty of water and washed 
the floor, until it began to look something like what it 
had been the day before. I did not want Mrs. Robert- 
son to come near the place until we had made things 
fairly presentable. I had beds and a table carried in, 
and that evening we had a cosy tea in that room. The 
children were soon in bed and asleep, and everything, 
as we looked round, seemed so clean and comfortable 
again that we could scarcely realise that we had been 
homeless the night before. We did not venture to go 
into any of the other rooms ; they were in a shocking 
state, and it was weeks before they began to look better. 

At Cook's Bay, our new cottage was smashed into 
match-wood. When the people there saw my house go 
down they knew, they said, that there was no hope 


for theirs, and took to the caves. Not a single native 
hut was left standing. Two people were killed by falling 
trees. Netai Neseto, the old chief, was caught up into 
the air by the force of the wind and carried some dis- 
tance inland; and had it not been for the long dress- 
coat which he fortunately had on at the time, and to 
which his friends clung, he would have been carried off 
the island altogether! So they said. Both at Cook's 
Bay and Dillon's Bay, thousands of tons of timber were 
swept down from the mountains. The whole beach at 
the head of Cook's Bay was completely blocked ; for it 
was the largest inland trees that had been carried down 
and now lay in great banks upon each other. At Dillon's 
Bay it was different, for there the timber was swept 
right out into the bay. But the westerly sea that came 
with the later hurricane of January, 1879, raised the 
huge logs again and flung them up on the shore, 
literally covering every part of the beach from far-off 
Umpon-lu, on the north side of the bay, to the mouth of 
the river. Here, too, as at Cook's Bay, there was scarcely 
a hut left standing, and the old lime schoolhouse, built 
by James Gordon, was washed away bodily. Strange to 
say, the wooden tablet there, with the inscription to the 
memory of the martyrs, which was fastened to one of 
the walls, was not lost ; we found it afterwards buried 
beneath sand and mud and plaster. 

The saddest part of the havoc caused by the flood 
was the death of an old man — Woki. He must have 
been swept out to sea in his hut, for he was never seen 
after the storm began. A young woman named Navuso 
had a very narrow escape from drowning. She was 
sleeping in a small hut some distance up the valley, 
just near the bend of the river, and awoke to find her- 
self in great danger — the water rushing all around her. 
It was a wonder that she was not killed by the falling 


hut, for with it she was caught in the torrent and was 
being carried swiftly away. The mass of broken Hmbs 
of trees and the ruins of the house all around her 
suddenly stopped ; she felt something strong and solid 
near her and clung to it for dear life. In a minute, the 
logs and trees were caught up again by the rushing 
waters, and the woman, as if by a miracle, was left. She 
found herself about eight feet from the ground, clinging 
to a large bread-fruit tree. As soon as the danger was 
past she came down, and crept into a cave. Here her 
friends found her, and in the morning word came to Mrs. 
Robertson from Navuso begging for some clothes to 
cover her. The natives, as a rule, sleep ^ with very httle 
on them ; the poor woman probably had only a small 
grass skirt on her when she was carried away, and that 
must have been torn from her by the flood. Mrs. 
Robertson at once sent garments up to her. We were 
amazed to hear of what she had passed through during 
that awful night ; hers was, indeed, a miraculous escape 
from death. 

At this time, the river swept away many graves of 
natives, and cut so close to the bank where the graves of 
Mr. and Mrs. Gordon and Mr. Macnair were that I had 
to move them back to the rising ground, about fifty yards 
away. Neither flood nor tidal wave can ever touch 
them there. What work we had after this storm in 
repairing our buildings, walls, and roofs! The stone 
wall in front had to be rebuilt, as it had all been torn 
away by the flood. There is now a big stretch of very 
low land at a place v/e call Undam, more than a mile 
up the valley, which has only been formed since that 
time. The high land thereabout was literally shorn 
away, and this flat, with the old mud waste left by the 
flood as its foundation, has grown up since. I believe 
that what saved us all from being swept into the sea 

(the southern point.) 

[Pciffe 285. 


[Page 284. 


was the projecting high rock on the north bank of the 
river at the bathing place, which turned the course of 
the rushing waters and thus gave them a " sheer ' across 
the stream, from which point they cut their way towards 
the sea, covering the point of land on the south side, 
where the river enters the bay. 

About this time, I am sorry to say, some of our people 
behaved very strangely, doing nothing that was actually 
wrong, but showing us little sympathy, just when we 
needed it so much. A few were our good friends 
throughout, and helped us manfully with all that had to 
be done. In April the Dayspring arrived from Sydney,^ 
and what a treat it was to see her, especially, I suppose, 
as we had had so little brightness and cheer before her 
arrival. The people now seemed really ashamed of their 
conduct, and could not do enough to make up for the 
past unkindness. The Dayspring came early — some 
days before she was expected. I remember, all that 
afternoon, I had the strange feeling that a ship was near, 
and said to Mrs. Robertson : " We must keep a sharp 
look-out on that point ; I feel sure that the Dayspring 
is near ". Towards evening, taking Owang with me, I 
went up to the hill at the back of the house and along 
to the north of the bay, to see if I could find any trace 
of our goats. Naiwan, our herd, had taken ill, the 
flock had strayed, and we were without milk. After a 
long, fruitless search, I said to Owang that I would go 
back, and suggested that he should have another look 
before following me. It was getting quite dark then. 
Owang was down almost as soon as I was, and, to my 
delight, had found the goats and brought them. I was 
hurrying across to the yard with a jug for the milk when 
L5-itevau called to me, and, with a smile, pointed out 
seawards. There was our little Dayspring just coming 
round the southern point ; I was right, after all. Of 


course, there was great excitement then, but no time 
wasted in getting ready for her. I got Yomot to take 
me out in a canoe, and soon we were near the ship. 
By this time it was quite dark ; we could scarcely see 
the vessel. I called out and there was an answer at 
once from the deck. Captain Braithwaite said he felt 
sure it was my voice the moment he heard it, though 
it seemed to be coming from the rocks half-way between 
the river and the southern point. So it was ; for we 
were paddling close to Raumpong, keeping well in to 
the shore. I called again : " Captain Braithwaite, take 
care of your ship ; the whole bay is full of snags ". The 
vessel was being towed, znd soon we managed to get 
on board. Captain Braithwaite introduced me to his 
wife, who was having her first trip to the islands. I 
intended to stay on board the ship, for I had a notion 
that, if I left her, the captain would turn out to sea 
again till morning, and the danger was not so great 
as to require that. The ship needed careful handling 
that was all ; and I thought it well to warn him. Soon 
we were safely over to the anchorage. I had no fear 
of him slipping away now, and, with a promise from the 
captain and his wife to come on shore in the morning, 
1 said good-bye, taking, of course, the ever-important 
mail-bag with me in my canoe. 

The next morning, I again went in the canoe with 
Naling, but to Raumpong first; after holding a short 
service there, which had been arranged for some time 
previously, I went on board the Daysfring. Naling 
brought the canoe on shore, and I came with Captain 
and Mrs. Braithwaite in the ship's boat. We had a 
delightful visit from our friends, and thought the captain 
indeed fortunate in his wife, who, with her sweet face 
and kind manner, made friends wherever she went. Our 
memories of both Captain and Mrs. Braithwaite are very, 


very pleasant ones. The captain was in command of 
the Day spring, having been chief officer for two years 
previously. For fourteen years he held that position, 
till she was sold in i8go, when the transit work of the 
Mission was given to a steamship company of Sydney, 
whose steamers now visit the Mission stations on our 
islands every two months, and will make more frequent 
trips when the trade grows. Our natives all respected, 
as well as loved him, and well they might ; for he was 
always kind and considerate to them. He knew them 
all. by name, although not always the right name, and 
never failed to give them a friendly greeting. And I 
think I need scarcely say that, in spite of failings — and 
who among us has not his shortcomings } — we all loved 
and honoured our bluff old captain. Botany was his 
hobby, and all his spare moments were given to this 
pursuit. He made a fine collection of specimens, and 
had no trouble in getting the natives to search for plants, 
for they knew he always paid them well. 

As for Mrs. Braithwaite, one has only to go to those 
who knew her well, to hear her spoken of as she de- 
serves. Hers was one of the sweetest, brightest char- 
acters we have ever known. Mrs. Robertson loved to 
have- her near, and counts the friendship with Mrs. 
Braithwaite, as I am sure many others of the ladies of 
our Mission must do, as one of the sweet memories of 
her life. She always had a tender love for children, 
and was a very mother to them all when they were on 
board ship ; nothing done for their pleasure was a 
trouble. We have known her to take entire charge of 
the Httle ones, when their mothers were ill and unable 
to look after them. We used to say that the Dayspring 
would not have been the Dayspring at all without Mrs. 
Braithwaite, for she could smooth away the rough jars 


that her husband sometimes made, and we all felt, as he 
must have felt himself, that the captain owed much of 
his success to her gentleness and loving tact. Mrs. 
Robertson, and, I suppose, the other wives of the mis- 
sionaries too, knew how well she could do their shopping 
for them in Sydney, and many were the commissions 
that she was entrusted with. In the tiny, trig cabin 
in the Dayspring there were on every trip parcels upon 
parcels coming hitherward, and nothing was ever for- 
gotten. Mrs. Robertson used to say what a comfort it 
was to be able to tell Mrs. Braithwaite exactly what she 
wanted to buy and to know that she would get that very 
thing or something better, if it was to be had. I have 
no doubt that they all did find it " such a comfort " ; 
for they could scarcely expect the old captain to be fly- 
ing around from one bargain counter to another all the 
time the ship was in Sydney. 

And, in the children's eyes, Mrs. Braithwaite was an 
ideal woman. Did not every one of them, from one end 
of the group to the other, get twice a year one of those 
wonderful tins, or perhaps, better still, odd-shaped, old- 
fashioned bags, made of straw work and bright silks and 
filled with pink and white sweets — not too indigestible 
and yet not too wholesome — just what they had been 
dreaming about for six months before.^ We did not 
think that this feature of our friend's visits was particu- 
larly noticed by the children themselves, until one day, 
when Mrs. Robertson and I were speaking of all Mrs. 
Braithwaite's good qualities, our then baby, Annie, who 
was about five years old, added as her special tribute of 
praise : " And she never comes empty-handed ". How- 
ever, after all, I fancy that the presents had very little 
to do with it, and the biggest share of their child-love 
was for the kind giver herself. I am quite sure that to 
our children Captain and Mrs. Braithwaite came next 


to their own father and mother. When they were away 
from us at school in Sydney, it was Mrs. Braithwaite 
who could tell us all that we were longing to hear about 
them ; for she always went to see them when there, and 
it was still the children's greatest treat to spend a day 
now and again on the little ship in Sydney harbour. 
The Daysprmg, with the captain and his wife, was 
almost to them a home again. We felt very much the 
sad deaths of our friends a few years ago — in 1895. 
Mrs. Braithwaite was taken first, and, only a few days 
after, her husband followed her. 

During this year (1877) the Synod kindly placed the 
Dayspring at my disposal that I might make visits right 
round Erromanga. There was a fortnight of her time 
to spare, and that was too short for a voyage among 
the other islands. I was very glad to have this splendid 
chance of paying a visit to all the coast districts where 
I was likely to be received. Captain Braithwaite did 
his part admirably, running into the bays with the vessel 
as close as it was considered safe. As soon as the boat 
left with us, the Dayspring would stand out again, till 
we were ready to leave the shore, when she would come 
in to pick us up. At all the districts where we had 
teachers, they were ready for us. They had arrowroot 
bulbs* in baskets, neatly packed for taking in the ship 
to Dillon's Bay ; and besides this, there were fowls, clubs, 
bows and arrows, sandal-wood and money, which, at my 
request, they were contributing towards the cost of 
printing the Acts of the Apostles. 

Leaving Dillon's Bay, we went south, and then worked 
round to the east. While on shore at Bunkil a heavy 
thunderstorm came on, accompanied by an earthquake 
and rain ; this seemed to clear the weather for us, and 
we were fortunate in having it very fine throughout the 


trip. I had a grand visit to the crowds of people at 
Numpu-norowo, and spent the whole day with them. 
In the evening, the great Norowo himself — the high 
chief in honour of whom the district received its name — 
and a party of his men went off to the ship with me, 
and spent the night on board. They were landed the 
next morning after a huge breakfast of rice, meat and 
tea, but not before Captain Braithwaite had made them 
presents of small looking-glasses, fish-hooks, calico and 
knives. The chief offered the captain, with whom he 
seemed very much taken, two coal-black wives if he 
would only go on shore and live with him. When the 
captain laughingly asked, " What about Mrs. Braith- 
waite } " Norowo answered, " Oh ! bring her too ; that 
would only be three ". The old chief was greatly in- 
terested and evidently much flattered by his own reflec- 
tion in the large mirror in the saloon. He was dressed in 
— well, we'll say, an undress uniform, for that sounds 
well at any rate ; and how he did twist and squirm in 
front of that glass ! trying to see all round his body at 
one glance. He would smile and laugh like a young 
child, and occasionally turn round and jerk his thumb 
to his men, evidently eager to see if they were as 
charmed with his appearance as he was himself. They 
were all in great distress when they found that they 
were to be landed at a spot where the people were not 
friendly. I told Captain Braithwaite, and he at once 
gave orders that they should be landed as near as 
possible to their own village. I went with them and 
saw them safely on shore, much charmed with their 
visit to the ship and seemingly prepared to be more 
friendly to the Mission cause. 

When we had finished all our work, right round to 
the extreme north point of Portinia Bay, the weather 
became unsettled. As the captain, his officers and men 


had all done so much to help me so far, and as I had 
been able to visit such a number of the shore villages, 
I said to Captain Braithwaite that he might now head his 
vessel to Dillon's Bay ; I would finish visiting the other 
districts by walking to them later on. During this trip, 
a number of young boys and girls that I met at the 
different villages wanted to return with me and attend 
my school, but, with one exception, their friends pre- 
vented them. This was a little girl who cried so 
and begged to come that they allowed her, and I pro- 
mised them that they might come and take her home 
again at the end of the year, when we were to go off 
for a time to Sydney. Mrs. Braithwaite stayed with 
Mrs. Robertson while we were away round the island 
in the Dayspring, and had an alarming experience of 
earthquake while on shore. While we only felt one 
shock at Bunkil, where we were, Mrs. Robertson said 
there must have been a hundred during that same day 

Mrs. Braithwaite was quite unnerved ; for no sooner 
had they got over one shock than there would come 
another and another. From what the captain and 
I heard on our return, it seems that his wife and my 
wife had been busy running into each other's arms every 
few minutes, and each time in a different room! The 
severest shock came during the night, and hurled a 
number of books from the bookcase clean across Mrs. 
Braithwaite's bed on to the floor. Nothing would in- 
duce her to sleep alone in that room after that night. 

After spending a fortnight at home, I started, with a 
company of fourteen men and two women, to visit the 
different settlements on the north side of the island. The 
first morning we got to Sufa and Navwolu, and then went 
on to a small lot of huts on the table-land back from Eliza- 


beth Bay, where a number of men had encamped while 
tending Naliniwe, the chief, who was ill. Of course his 
three wives were with him, and when we arrived they were 
all busy preparing dainties to tempt their husband's appe- 
tite. However, I noticed that most of it was eaten by the 
chief's brother, son, and other men of the place. Nali- 
niwe — always the perfect gentleman ^ — received me 
and my party very graciously, and, though sick, was 
careful to instruct the men about him what food they 
were to get for us, giving special directions about my 
portion. Yams and bananas were soon brought in, a 
pig and fowls were killed, and in a little time about 
twenty people were busy preparing our supper. When 
the evening meal was over, I talked with the people 
about " the word," and found the chief and others very 
willing listeners. Then before sleeping, they, with my 
own people, all gathered together, and we had an even- 
ing hymn and prayer in Naliniwe's big siman-lo.^ The 
next morning I wrote down the names of all, and then 
said good-bye. I had ridden thus far, but, as it would 
be impossible to take the horse on any further, owing 
to the dense scrub and bad roads, I had to leave my 
mount, " Bessie " — Mr. Gordon's old mare — in charge 
of the chief. Naling, his brother, was to look well after 
the bridle and saddle, but, being a practical young 
heathen, he bestowed all his care upon the choke-band, 
because he found it made a very nice belt. We managed 
to get it back from him, some time afterwards — very 
black and well varnished with dirt. Some years after, 
this man, Naling Sorumpat, became a sincere Christian, 
loving to do that which was right, and on our return 
from Canada he was made a teacher. He kept this 
position until his death a short time ago, and throughout 
was one of our most faithful, gentle and generous- 
hearted helpers. Naliniwe was to have joined our 


party at Elizabeth Bay, but, as he was too ill to do this, 
an old man named Auwi-auwi kindly offered to take his 
place and introduce me to the heathen chiefs along the 
coast, who were Naliniwe's friends. But poor Auwi- 
auwi became so fatigued after a day or two of walking 
that I persuaded him to turn back, saying that we 
would find our own way to the different encampments. 
Towards evening we all got very hungry, and it was 
with relief that we caught sight of a plantation in the 
distance. But, when we came near the premises, there 
was no one to be seen, no one to give us anything. We 
soon found a way out of the difficulty. We knew the 
man to whom the plantation belonged, and so we cut 
as much sugar-cane as we wanted, and left the pay for 
him. I tied up our payment — tobacco and matches — 
in my handkerchief, and was fastening it to a tree, 
when an old woman appeared on the scene. She gave 
us plenty of sugar-cane and fruit, and took the pay for 
the owner, who happened to be a friend of hers. Not 
long after that, we arrived at Pokil, a village some dis- 
tance away, where Numpurom was chief. He was still 
in heathenism, but often attended services at another 
village on the table-land of Il-Efate, where we had a 
teacher. He gave us a friendly welcome, and began at 
once to have food prepared for us. I called him back, 
and said: "Numpurom, my friend! we are all hungry 
and faint ; yams, and puddings, and sugar-cane are very 
good, but we want something else, too ; we want fan 
nevag nelat, ' something that walks on the ground and 
that grunts '." He laughed, and walking off to where a 
great fat pig was feeding in a pen, he pointed it out 
to his men, telling them to kill it at once. It was evi- 
dently being fed for a nisekar ^ or ' feast,' and I thought 
it was very good of this heathen chief to give it up 
to us so willingly. My people knew that I should not 


be able to eat the pork if it was cooked as they cook 
it. There were two women with us, Namprip and Nu- 
feruvi, and the latter, with her husband, Molep, set to 
work at once to prepare a savoury dish for me. They 
took the liver and a few slices of the pork itself, and, after 
washing them in a large banana leaf, cut them into fine 
pieces. Then these, with a junk or two of fat and a 
little salt, were put into a small, freshly cut bamboo,^ 
and this was carefully turned over a glowing fire until 
the contents were thoroughly cooked. I suppose it was 
partly because I was so hungry, but I don't think I 
ever enjoyed a meal more than I did that night. The 
meat was cooked to perfection, and the bamboo gave it 
a peculiar flavour, which seemed to improve it rather 
than otherwise. 

One man, whom I was very anxious to see this trip 
was Narai, the old chief of Potnifi. Nuferuvi, his 
daughter, and her husband being both, in our party, I 
thought that by their help I might get my wish. I 
heard that he had never even seen a white man, and 
that he stood in mortal terror of me. If we could only 
get Narai to be friendly it would mean much ; for he 
had a strong influence over all the northern chiefs, 
that is to say, a bad influence. When we were within 
a mile or so of the village, it was suggested that Nuferuvi 
and Molep should go on ahead and find out if the old 
man would be wilhng to see me. In a little, a message 
came back saying that he would not see me. I tried 
again and sent word that I would not expect to take 
his hand, I would merely look at him. But again a 
decided " No " was the answer. The third time my 
messenger went, I sent a small present, but even this did 
not pave the way for me. Word came back that Narai 
had accepted it, but was norigi sat, ' ashamed and sorry,* 
that he could not receive me ; it was not that he was 


[Por/f 295. 


{Page 357. 


nakan, 'angry,' but he was afraid^ that he would surely 
take ill and die if he even looked at me. I was deter- 
mined to get a glimpse of him ; so, pulling off my boots 
and socks, I slipped very quietly along, picking my way 
through the scrub until I came to his camp. From 
behind a fence made of dracaenas I got a really good 
view of the old man. He was sitting on a mat, my 
present beside him, and quite close to him was a bow 
and arrows, which, it turned out afterwards, were meant 
for me. Niferuvi and Molep were standing beside him 
talking to him ; the old chief was looking up, seeming 
to have no eyes for any one but his child. Our woman 
Namprip was standing right in front, between him and 
the fence behind which I was crouching, and, although 
I could see him plainly, I was completely hidden from 
his view by Namprip's enormous grass skirts. Un- 
fortunately, after a second or two, she moved, and, before 
I could do anything, old Narai had seen me, and was 
off like a rocket. He flew like a wild moose-deer to the 
bush, and it was only when his friends assured him 
that I was far away, that he plucked up courage to come 
back. He was evidently deeply superstitious, and in 
real terror of me and my supposed witchcraft. 

We journeyed round day after day as far as Potnuma, 
where we more than completed the districts not visited 
by me in the Dayspring. From Potnuma we struck 
inland to Arawau, where our teacher Soso was doing 
excellent work. At Potnuma one of my men, Neraipau, 
asked me to allow him to turn back several miles, that 
he might try and get his wife, who had been stolen 
from him by the heathen while he was away working 
in Fiji for the sho?'t space of seven years. His pay^" 
there, when his term was over, was a box, a blanket 
and two muskets, one of which had no bore in it — solid 
throughout! A ship was leaving for Erromanga, and 


he was told that it was his only chance to get home. 
So home he came with his valuables, having no time 
to look at them even until he had scrambled on board 
the ship. About his wife, I said : " Kik-e-pe-kik, ' just 
as you please * " ; it is no affair of mine ; so, taking with 
him Novolu Naiyup, he retraced his steps about five 
miles, arriving at the village at night. It had evidently 
by some means been arranged between him and his 
wife that he should return for her, and it seems that 
she was on the watch and all ready for flight. Un- 
fortunately, just when he was within a few feet of her 
hut, a number of the village dogs began to bark, and, 
the men being aroused, poor Neraipau had to run for 
his life. Towards morning he rejoined us at Arawau, 
very tired, very hungry, and very, very disappointed. 
He never got his wife. Some years after, when she 
with a number of her half-heathen friends, came to one 
of our gatherings for the Sacrament, I made the whole 
people pass before me in single file in order to count 
them, and Neraipau and another man stood one on 
each side of the procession to help me. When the men 
had passed, the women moved slowly along, and at one 
of these — tall and graceful, with her head erect, and 
sweeping along and looking at no one — I saw poor 
Neraipau cast a longing glance. Another minute and 
she was gone ; it was his wife — another man's wife now. 
We left Arawau about ten o'clock in the morning, and 
with two of the young men I reached Dillon's Bay about 
ten o'clock that same night. The rest of my party 
had succumbed, and were sleeping in the bush by a 
stream about ten miles away. We were all very tired 
and glad to be home again ; that day we had travelled 
twenty-five miles through wild bush, crossing seven 
streams and climbing mountains a thousand feet in 


It was during the winter of this year that our good 
friend and helper, Watata, was married. He had served 
us faithfully for four years, and we had become very 
much attached to him. When he first came to us he 
could not read ; for, although he had the Gospel of Luke 
in Aneityumese given to him by Mrs. Geddie when he 
was a boy, he told us that he had neglected it then, 
and now, having been years away from his island, work- 
ing for sandal-wood traders and others, he was still 
unable to read and almost ashamed to try. I knew the 
Aneityumese language well, and took pleasure in 
giving Watata lessons. Soon, with my help and Abel's 
too (for Abel read well, and gave Watata many a spare 
moment of his time), and still more by his own persever- 
ance, Watata, though far from young, learnt to read 
well, both in the Aneityumese and Erromangan lan- 
guages. And his life was such a truly Christian one 
that we suggested to him that he should make the open 
acknowledgment of his faith, and, before long, he was 
admitted to the Communion of the Church. After some 
time he took a trip in the Dayspring as boat's crew, and 
on his return from Sydney I offered to let him give up 
work and go back to Aneityum. But no ; Watata 
seemed determined to stay; he had cast in his lot with 
us, and told us that this was his home. It was evident 
that he intended to live and die on this island, and I 
said to Mrs. Robertson one day : " Well, if Watata has 
made up his mind to stay — and he seems to have done 
that — don't you think he would be much happier if he 
had a wife .-* " I have only twice tried my hand at 
match-making ; Watata's case was one, the other was 
that of Sole and Numpunia. Both turned out well, but 
I never wanted to try a third time ; match-making for 
other people is a risky business. Mrs. Robertson agreed 
with me, and I straightway set to work to look for a 


wife for Watata. It was useless to expect to get one 
from Aneityum, for women were scarce there ; so we 
had to make our own island the happy hunting ground. 
One day, as we were working together, I spoke to Watata 
about it. " Ko ; yaii viodiu nakiugi, ' it is quite true ; I 
would like it,' " was his reply. Knowing the jealousy of 
the Erromangan men, he had always been careful to 
avoid rousing it in any way, but, all the same, we saw 
that Watata was not insensible to the fascinations of the 
Erromangan women. I remember one day — I don't 
know how it happened, the old people must have been 
less particular than usual — Watata, with Numpunia, Mrs. 
Robertson's housemaid, was making food up by the old 
stables ; just those two ; every one else seemed to be 
busy. Neheto, another Aneityumese man, was working 
with me, and, much to his chagrin, got a glimpse now 
and again of the pair busy over their food-preparing. 
The grapes were very, very sour, and Neheto's face was 
as glum as Watata's was beaming. Later on, the oven ^^ 
was opened, and we saw Watata hurrying down. His face 
was all aglow as he came running up to Neheto. He 
held in his hand a steaming pudding; "Me, Neheto! 
nevag virok-virok wokon nisekom, ' here, Neheto ! take a 
little pudding, very small, just all for you '." He looked 
happy enough to have given him all the food that day. 
Neheto, with a contemptuous look at the pudding lying 
beside him, gave a snort of disdain or anger, and, never 
deigning to even thank his countryman, turned to his 
work again. Poor Watata retired crestfallen ; it was 
hard lines that Neheto should take it into his head to 
be jealous because he had been in " paradise " for an 
hour or two. Unfortunately, Numpunia did not seem to 
return his devotion. She may have thought that there 
was some danger of her being asked to be his wife, 
and one day, in my hearing, spoke rather scornfully of 


the poor man. She wound up with this : " Watata is old, 
very, very old ". No doubt she thought that this was 
a decided proof of his unfitness to aspire to her youth 
and beauty, and thought it well to give us a hint to that 

Utevo was the first that I asked to take pity on Wa- 
tata, but she declined, saying that her friends would be 
angry if she " went to Aneityum ". " Yes ; and she will 
marry an Erromangan, who, perhaps, some day will ill- 
use her and kill her," was Watata's comment on this. 
The next one was Ohai, Rangi's widow, but she merely 
twirled her toes and stared vacantly at the ceiling, never 
answering a word to me. It was plain that she did not 
want this man. All this was rather discouraging — two 
rebuffs ; but I determined to try a third time, and during 
a short visit to Cook's Bay wrote to Soso, who was then 
teaching at Arawau, asking if he would give Watata 
his sister Ohai, the widow of Netai Walis. He replied 
by letter, saying that, as far as he was concerned, it was 
agreed ; he was perfectly willing, but that his sister did 
not belong to him but to another Netai and to Noai. 
These were both relatives of her late husband.^^ It seems 
that Noai himself had once wanted Ohai ; he told me all 
about it years afterwards, when the bitterness of the 
disappointment was over; it evidently had been a big 
disappointment at the time. He said that he and Netai 
Walis were great friends, almost brothers, and one day 
Noai opened his heart to him. " Netai, avug, ' Netai, 
my friend,' " he said ; " I want you to go and ask Soso 
to give me his sister, Ohai, for my wife ; this wish of 
mine is very great, and I could not tell any one but you. 
Will you do this for me, and keep it secret ? " Netai's 
reply was all too prompt : " I would do many things, my 
brother, for you, and why not this ; no one else shall 
know of it." He went straight away to Soso, repeated 


Noai's request word for word, and added, " But who 
ever heard of his having a sister to give you?^^ Give 
me your sister, Soso, and I will give you my sister in 
return." Soso closed with the offer, and Netai Walis 
carried off the prize — a clear case of John speaking for 
himself, and having no scruples about doing so. For 
many years poor Noai (and little wonder) felt very sore 
about the way his false friend had treated him. I sup- 
pose it was scarcely to be wondered at that, when Netai 
died and his widow became the property of his two 
relatives, Noai should have been unwilling to let her 
go, as they would look upon it, to another island. 

Whatever was the reason, both he and Netai (who was 
teaching at Ehzabeth Bay) would not hear of the match, 
and were angry with all who were in favour of it. I 
said to Soso, who was eager for me to atekisah, ' strive 
for it,' that we must let the matter drop, for it was not 
worth all this fuss and anger ; and, as I had told him 
in my first letter, Watata would not suffer ; he could do 
very well without a wife, and the only way we wanted 
him to have one was with the full consent and approval 
of her friends. 

One day, some time after this, Noai and Netai ar- 
rived with a present of a pig and some yams, and told me 
that they now wanted the marriage ; their nakan, ' anger,' 
had first been away down deep,^* then it had been here 
(pointing to their throats), and now it had flown out 
altogether. I thereupon resolved that all the energy 
for the match should be on iheir side this time ; so I 
answered very indifferently, saying that perhaps it was 
just as well for Ohai to remain^^ only; my helper, 
Watata, was in no hurry, and could easily do without a 
wife. They seemed eager for it then, insisted that it 
would please them to give this woman to Watata, and 
almost begged for the marriage. So I, consenting to 


their pleading, told Watata privately of his good fortune, 
and the preparations for the wedding began at once. 
Of course, long before this, we knew that Ohai herself 
was willing. I remember it was on a Wednesday that 
it took place, and a little before the service I strolled 
up to Watata's and Abel's house. I found Watata 
quietly reading his Bible. I had a nice talk with him, 
speaking of how long we had been together, of the help 
that he had been to us, and of how God had blessed him 
during his years on Erromanga. He seemed very much 
affected, and I was deeply touched by his manly Chris- 
tian words. " Misi," he said, " I am a different man from 
what I once was ; you did not know it, but when I first 
came here I was bad, and sometimes when a ship was 
in I used to steal off to get grog. You spoke to me of 
my Saviour, and taught me to read His Word. I learnt 
to read it, and then, Misi, I learnt to love it. Now I feel 
that my heart is changed ; God has been very good to 

On the whole there was a very kindly feeling to 
Watata on the part of the Erromangans, and, with only 
one or two exceptions and those of no importance, all 
the villagers came to his marriage. I said that if they 
wanted to show that they welcomed him as one of 
themselves and that they were pleased with the match, 
they must not absent themselves from the ceremony ; 
and they turned out heartily. A large quantity of food 
was cooked that afternoon in honour of the event. Wa- 
tata got a fine wife in Ohai, who was a true Christian 
woman, and their marriage was a very happy one. He 
was very kind to her and to his two little step-children, 
and provided well for them. As an illustration of how 
completely our natives look upon a woman as her 
husband's, and at his death, his friends', property, I may 
add that the Erromangans, although Ohai was never off 


her own island, always speak of her as " Ohai, who went 
to Aneityuin". Watata's two children were, of course, 
named by him, and received Aneityumese names ; Ta- 
waitas, the little girl, died a few years ago, but the son, 
Talahapa, is a fine sturdy boy of about eighteen years, 
and very like his father in many ways ; he has Watata's 
own swinging walk, and often reminds us of him. 

After his marriage I said to Watata that I would not 
expect such constant work from him as formerly ; he 
would still attend to the cows and bring the milk, but 
he was to have the rest of his time free to himself, 
except when I needed his help for anything special. 
What a comfort he was to us during all the eighteen 
years that he was with us ! He was an excellent worker 
— reliable and willing, and never seemed to find his 
duties irksome. He was a credit to his own island of 
Aneityum,, as well as to his adopted home, Erromanga. 
Although he was never a teacher, Watata was such a 
true, earnest Christian, that he helped the work in many 
ways, and I often got him to conduct service, both on 
Sundays and at the weekly prayer meeting. When he 
first came here, he seemed to find the Erromangan 
language hard, and spoke it with difficulty ; but later on, 
especially after his marriage, he became very fluent, and 
had no more trouble with it. 

We were now well off for helpers, and since 1876 we 
had had with us another Aneityumese man, Korkor. 
He had been well trained by Mrs. Inglis, who, hearing 
that we were very much in need of a g6od cook, brought 
him to us during the trip that she and Mr. Inglis took 
that year to say farewell to all their fellow-missionaries. 
When Korkor arrived, he at once took charge of the 
kitchen, and proved invaluable^ — another Watata. He 
was a genuine help and comfort to us after the rough 


help that we had been putting up with for some time 
before. He was with us for three years, and during that 
time had never once to be sent to his work. Poor Woris 
Nemetangi, the young lad who had helped us first, had 
died when we were away at Tanna, in 1 874. How much 
we felt that dear boy's death ! It was Woris, who, as a 
mischievous lad, used to keep Mrs. Robertson busy 
doing his work, but, as she has often said, he more than 
made up for any trouble he gave her then ; he was 
constant in his devotion to us and we fairly loved him 
for it. In order to be near us, in case of danger or 
sudden attack from the heathen, he built himself a rough 
booth or hut near the kitchen, and, during the winter of 
1873, caught a severe cold, brought on, I am sure, by 
exposure to the wind and rain in that miserable shelter. 
It distressed us to see him suffering, but the poor boy 
even then would not give up his work, and struggled on ; 
of course we did all we could for him. As the summer 
came on, we were delighted to observe that his health 
seemed to be improving, and we hoped that he would 
soon be quite well. But to our great grief, on our 
return from Tanna, we heard that he had died during our 
absence ; the cold had never left him, and he had gradu- 
ally sunk. That dear boy gave his life as truly in our 
service as if he had been Killed by heathen for his friend- 
ship to us. We felt heart-broken on hearing of our 




One of the earliest and, perhaps, the most faithful of our 
women-helpers on Erromanga was Ohai, one of the wives 
of Rangi, the Polynesian. She was the daughter of a 
high chief near Navwolu, a village to the north of Dillon's 
Bay, and had been given to Rangi as a peace-offering 
after one of his victorious raids upon the people of that 
district. She seems to have been his youngest and 
favourite wife ; he was very kind to her, as, indeed, he 
was to all his wives and children. We never heard a 
word against him in that respect. 

When her husband had to flee to Efate (see Chapter ii.), 
Ohai was one of those who went with him. After his 
death she, with her two little children, was brought back 
in the Dayspring to Erromanga. She was then about 
thirty years of age,, a strong, fine-looking young woman, 
and, as it turned out afterwards, with a large amount 
of energy. Of course, she was no sooner arrived than 
her heathen friends decided to get her to marry again. 
Ohai steadily refused to marry anybody, and in answer 
to an account of one suitor's virtues and worth — meant 
to soften her heart — scornfully asked, " Will he give me 
cow to eat if I marry him ? " For Rangi's wives knew 
what it was to live well, and beef was plentiful in his 
camp. No ; he could not give her cow to eat, and 
so his case was hopeless. After that, it was clearly 
understood that a man who could not give Ohai cow 



to eat need not waste his time in a hopeless attachment. 
After a time, however, in spite of all her determination, 
she was forced to become the wife of a man who lived 
at Bunkil, but at her first chance she ran away from 
him and came to us at Dillon's Bay. Her great friend 
here was Utevo, a sister of another of Rangi's wives ; she 
did all she could to help her, and the two women, with 
Ohai's little children, lived together. Mrs. Robertson 
and I told Ohai that as long as she cared to be with 
us, she and her children would have our warm friendship 
and protection. Soon she was installed as washer- 
woman, sharing the work with Uviyemul, another wife 
of Rangi. At that time all the water had to be carried 
in buckets to the house ; so Mrs. Robertson found it 
better to let the women take the linens up the river 
to be washed. Men had to go with them to protect 
them. After a time,, we noticed that our clothes came 
back with a very muddy look about them. Before long 
we found out that Ohai and Uviyemul were washing 
for all and sundry — the men's old shirts, dirty, ragged 
netoitingi, ' loin-cloths,' and whatever else was handy, 
being freely dumped into the tubs and washed with our 
clothes. We soon put a stop to that, and after the 
first reproof Mrs. Robertson never had any fault to find 
with the appearance of her linens. Ohai was head 
laundress for years, and after a time had also a plot of 
ground to sweep and keep in order. It was a lesson 
to see that woman going about her work. She was 
an early riser, and had her boiler filled and over the fire 
as soon as it was daylight. Most natives would then sit 
still or go to sleep again until the water boiled. Not 
so Ohai ; no time was wasted, and, until the boiler was 
ready, she was hard at work sweeping her plot. She 
was so energetic and so faithful that we became very 
much attached to her. Her two children were con- 


slantly about our place ; we practically adopted both 
mother and children. Little Tia was six or seven years 
old, and her brother, Amos, a few years younger. They 
were both fair-skinned, pretty children, with lovely dark 
eyes. Mrs. Robertson thought she would give Tia a 
piece of work one day, just to get the child interested 
in doing something. She set her to dust the chairs in 
the sitting-room, and in a short time came back to find 
the little curly-headed mite, with the duster in her hand, 
but fast asleep, on the floor! Whenever she got tired, 
she would just curl herself up, no matter where she 
was, and go right to sleep. When she got older, Mrs. 
Robertson brought her into the house altogether, and 
took the utmost pains in training her. Tia became very 
handy, and picked up quickly all that there was to learn 
about house-work. In reading she was rather backward 
at first, but kept at her book steadily until she mas- 
tered it. 

When Captain Caffin paid his last visit to us in the 
Beagle, in 1877, he took a great fancy to little Amos, 
who was then about eight years of age, and the boy 
seemed to be just as fond of the captain, and would slip 
on board the ship at every chance. He was made much 
of and petted by both officers and men, and, when the 
captain suggested taking him with him,, the boy seemed 
crazy to go. Captain Caffin was a fine, earnest Chris- 
tian, a warm friend of our Mission, and we knew he 
would be kindness itself to the little fellow, but at first 
neither Mrs. Robertson nor I approved of the suggestion. 
However, when the boy seemed bent on going, even 
hiding himself on board the ship, I asked his mother 
if she would be willing to part with him. Poor Ohai! 
she felt the prospect of separation keenly, but gave her 
consent, though she was really broken-hearted when 


she said good-bye. Captain Caffin's wish was to have 
the boy thoroughly educated in England, and, if willing, 
when fully trained, to send him back here as a mission- 
ary to his own island. He signed an agreement to that 

When we went to Sydney at the end of the year, 
Mrs. Robertson took with her Tia as nurse. Captain 
Caffin came to the house where we lodged one day 
and brought Amos, looking quite smart in a man-o'-war 
uniform. " Go over and kiss your sister, Amos," he 
said, and I think we were as much amused at his 
suggestion as he was astonished at the cool, matter-of- 
fact way in which brother and sister met, merely shaking 
hands rather indifferently.^ No doubt in their own way 
they were very fond of each other, and delighted to meet 
again, but — they would not show it. We think our 
Erromangans are exceptionally stoical ; they rarely if 
ever speak of their inmost thoughts, and, however much 
they may at times feel sorrow and trouble or the reverse, 
they seem to take the greatest pains to hide it. We feel 
this ; for it seems almost impossible to get really near 
their hearts, and often when we want their sympathy 
or would like to give them ours, they just draw into 
their shells, and seem to be on guard against display- 
ing any emotion. It was Yomot who said once : " We, 
Erromangans, cannot talk of these things. You think 
we are hard and have no feelings, but we have. But the 
thoughts stay deep unowamam, ' in our hearts,' and we 
cannot say them. We are not like other people." We 
know this is true, and that, perhaps, they are more sin- 
cere than if they were to talk much ; but, oh ! how often 
we have longed to hear a few words of encouragement 
and loving sympathy, and have been disappointed. 

The first time I saw Amos after our arrival in Sydney 
was in the city one day. I was at the General Post 


Office posting letters, when I felt some one tugging at 
my coat, and on looking round saw Amos with one of 
the sailors from the Beagle. The boy's eyes were liter- 
ally streaming with tears, and he clung to me as if he 
would never let me go, saying, " Misi, ya ainagku kos 
kwontorileki ettugkosivi Errouianga, ' Misi, I want to go 
back with you to our home at Erromanga '." He was 
homesick enough then, poor little fellow, and would 
have done anything to get back. I said : " No, Amos, 
my boy ; you must stick to your word now. You wanted 
to come, and, although you knew that your mother's 
heart was nearly breaking, you could scarcely spare 
time to even say good-bye to her. Captain Caffin has 
been too good to you for you to leave him now." He 
soon was quite contented again ; it was just the sight 
of us, and the thought of his home that brought the 
sudden rush of feeling, and that made him, little Erro- 
mangan as he was, cry his heart out in sheer home- 

On their arrival in England he was placed by Captain 
Cafhn at a good school, where he received every atten- 
tion and encouragement. He got on well, and used to 
send us neat and carefully written letters. When we 
were in Scotland, in 1883, I wrote to Captain Caffin, 
asking his permission for Amos to leave the school 
and to accept the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Barnett, 
our hosts, to spend a few days with us. His permission 
and also that of the master of the school given, Amos 
soon arrived in Glasgow. We had, before that, met 
Captain Caffin in London. I had taken a few bows and 
arrows home to Amos, but he asked me not to let the 
boy even see them, as he wanted him to forget every- 
thing about the old life on Erromanga. We, with Mr. 
and Mrs. Barnett, were greatly delighted with Amos ; 
he seemed to have been splendidly trained, and, as far 


as manners went, he was a perfect little gentleman. He 
had forgotten his language and everything about the 
island, and, in deference to Captain Cafhn's wishes, we 
did not speak much of Erromanga. Amos was then 
about fourteen years of age. After some time, it seemed 
to his friends that the lad had scarcely enough ability 
for constant study, and Captain Caffin, after consulting 
with Dr. Inglis, decided to have him trained as a printer, 
so that in that capacity he might be a help to us in our 
work. All this time, he had alone borne the expense 
of Amos's education. This was no small amount, and, 
at Dr. Inglis' suggestion, a few friends agreed together 
to send a yearly sum of ten pounds as a small share in 
the cost of his training, thinking that the least they 
could do was to help Captain Caffin in his generosity. 
Amos, or Thomas Amos, as he was called then, went to 
learn printing in Leominster, and seemed to be making 
good progress. In a short time he would have been 
ready to come back to us here, and to help in giving 
the Gospel to his own countrymen. But God took him 
to Himself. Poor Amos was hurt while playing foot- 
ball, and, after recovering from that, another accident, 
again at football, brought on his fatal illness, and he 
died in the Hereford Hospital at the age of nineteen, a 
sincere, earnest Christian. The following extract from 
the Leominster News was interesting to us, as we re- 
called to mind the subject of the touching sketch as 
the little Erromangan boy that we had known years 
before : — 

" The funeral of Thomas Amos, whose death was re- 
ported in our last issue, took place on Saturday after- 
noon, and excited a large and sympathetic interest. 
Many of the tradesmen had the shutters put up, and 
some two hundred people were gathered round the 
grave and in the churchyard. . . . The service was con- 


ducted by the Rev. D. A. Brown. Mr. H. S. Newman 
was also present, and, in the course of a brief address, 
referred to the last visit he had paid to the deceased 
in the Infirmary, describing him as one of gentle dis- 
position, and simply trusting in the Saviour, and appeal- 
ing to all present to take to heart the lesson of the 
sad event which had called them together and to prepare 
to meet God. The grave was visited on Sunday by 
a large number of people, and many were the signs of 
the kindly interest taken in the youth who had lived 
for some three years in the town. The Rev. D. A. 
Brown preached an impressive sermon to a large con- 
gregation on Sunday evening, . . . selecting for his text 
the words, ' Many shall come from the East and the 
West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, 
and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven ' (Matt. viii. 1 1). . . . 
Mr. Brown then very touchingly referred to his acquaint- 
ance with Thomas Amos, and gave a few incidents of 
the life so sadly closed in its preparation for work. . . . 
The lad was well educated, and his training was intended 
as a preparation for missionary effort. But fitted better 
for work than study, arrangements were made three 
years ago by which he entered the Orphans' Printing 
Press, and continued certain studies so that he might 
return to Erromanga as a missionary printer. He be- 
came well known in the town, and the interest awakened 
in many deepened with knowledge. His kindly disposi- 
tion, his share in athletic sports, his consistent character, 
brought him into a large circle of young men, and his 
face and influence will be sadly missed. The story of 
his accident and illness was familiar, and friends and 
companions alike had shown their sympathy. He bore 
his sufferings with Christian patience, and was greatly 
delighted to find that he had so many friends. Mr. 
Brown then described a visit he had paid him in the 


Infirmary, remarking that he left the sufferer with feel- 
ings of mingled sadness and gladness ; sadness, because 
he saw the evidences of consumption and had no hope 
of his recovery ; gladness, because he found him trusting 
in the Saviour and quietly rejoicing in His love. Hopes 
had at one time been entertained that he would get 
better, and that there was before him a future of useful 
work amongst his own people, but God had called him 
to Himself, to a better land and to a higher service." 

Tia was with us for a number of years. She was 
about fourteen years old when she was with us in 
Sydney. She was our httle boy Gordon's nurse, and 
used to threaten very indignantly, " I'll tell Misi," if any 
street-child dared to tease either her charge or herself. 
She became a valuable help to Mrs. Robertson, and was 
neat and particular with her work. She was a pretty, 
bright girl, with a sweet expression. When she was 
eighteen, she was married to one of our young Christian 
men, Noragu, who afterwards became a teacher. They 
were settled at a village called Rampunumo, where they 
carried on a good work. Later on, they spent two years 
on Tongoa, assisting Mr. and Mrs. Michelsen, and, on 
their return to Erromanga, Noragu was appointed assis- 
tant teacher at Dillon's Bay, his wife helping him ably 
in her part of the work. Tia was always one of our most 
reliable and helpful women, and was a faithful wife to 
her husband and a loving mother to her three little 
children, who were always pictures of neatness. Her 
sudden death in 1 892 was felt very much by us all. 

After being laundress and then nurse, Ohai was our 
faithful cook for a long time, and, indeed, was with us 
until just before her death. She was really a wonderful 
woman, and managed to get through a surprising amount 
of work in one day ; she never hurried, but just kept 
on steadily and was never idle — a contrast to most 


islanders. Ohai made few pretensions, spoke little of 
her religious feelings, but her life showed what she was, 
a true and faithful s.^rvant of Christ. It was interesting 
to see how much every one respected her ; grown men 
and women all called her namo, ' mother '. As she grew 
older, she seemed to gain more influence over them 
all, and in her case there was no fear of jealousy as 
there would certainly have been with a younger woman. 
She was thrifty too, and, in her own way, was careful 
with our supplies of food, which it was her business to 
divide among the different workers. Of course, she 
had a great number of grandchildren, both real and 
counterfeit ones, who were always hanging round ; and 
these, too, had to be remembered, but Ohai was too 
privileged a person for us to make an ado about such 
matters, and we always found that a little judicious 
blindness was a very safe thing. I honestly think that 
Ohai had no equal, certainly no superior, among all the 
Christian workers in these islands. When Tia died, 
Ohai went from us to care for her little grandchildren, 
keeping this charge faithfully until her death, which 
took place not long afterwards. She was not long 
separated from the daughter whom she had loved so 
devotedly, for Tia died m the latter part of 1892, and 
Ohai died before many months of the following year 
had passed. 

In November, 1877, we left the islands for a visit to 
Sydney. While there, we had the Acts of the Apostles 
and also a Catechism and Hymnal printed. From con- 
tributions of fowls, curiosities, and money given by the 
natives and a few small sums from friends, we had about 
thirty-four pounds in hand towards the printing and 
binding of the Acts. The Foreign Mission Committee 
of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales most 


generously paid for the printing of a thousand copies 
of the Catechism, and we returned to Erromanga the 
following April, well provided with the new books. We 
had to place our little boy, who was far from well, under 
medical treatment, but he did not improve much during 
our stay. During our absence, a severe hurricane took 
place in the islands, and, hearing of this, we felt that we 
could not postpone our return. And yet we could not 
take back our poor child, ill as he was. But here our 
warm friends Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson,^ of the 
Royal Mint, Sydney, stepped in, offering to keep Gordon 
until his health should so far improve that it would 
be safe for him to return to us on Erromanga. And 
so devotedly and untiringly did they care for our poor 
little sufferer that, when he came to us in Mrs. Braith- 
waite's care about seven months later, we could scarcely 
believe that it was the same child. Mr. and Mrs. Ander- 
son were always warm, loving friends to all the members 
of our Mission, and we, I think, have special cause to 
remember how much they have done for us. It was a 
great relief to us to be able to have Gordon with them 
for a time. We left Sydney on the ist of April with 
our two little girls, our youngest child having been born 
during our stay there, and had a pleasant run to Aneit- 
yum. Mr. Michelsen, the new missionary, representing 
the Church of Otago and Southland, New Zealand, was 
a fellow-passenger. We were glad to arrive at Erro- 
manga again and to find everything in excellent order, 
and the Mission cause prospering. The hurricane had 
not done as much damage as we expected — an agreeable 

On the return trip to Sydney, the Daysfring was 
caught in a gale, when nearing the coast, and she was 
almost swamped. A boat, a hen-coop, a pig-sty, and 
fowls and pigs were washed overboard. For many 


hours the httle ship lay-to, and all hands were moved 
into the saloon, as, forward, the seas swept right over 
the ship and the forecastle was deluged with water. 
Yomot was on board as one of the crew, and was so 
terrified by the storm that, on reaching Sydney, he asked 
Captain Braithwaite if he would kindly bring his wife, 
Navusia, to him by the following trip of the Dayspring, 
as he was afraid to risk another such passage back to 
Erromanga ! What about the poor wife's safety ? That 
did not seem to strike him. However, a few weeks in 
Sydney gave Yomot back his courage, and he returned 
that same trip with our little Gordon. Mr. Anderson 
used to tell with much amusement of the first meeting 
between Yomot and Gordon. During his six months 
or so away from us, the child had forgotten Erromanga, 
and seemed frightened at black faces. When Mr. Ander- 
son took him down to the Dayspring, Yomot got sight 
of him, and, with a rush forward, caught up Gordon 
in his arms and kissed him. He had the good sense to 
laugh when the child wiped his face to get rid of the 
kiss. When they were about to go ashore, Mr. Anderson 
took what he thought was a safe plan. " Gordon, shake 
hands with Yomot, now," doing so himself. Gordon 
looked doubtfully at the black hand, put his slowly into 
it, and then carefully wiped it all over his dress. Fear- 
ing that poor Yomot's feelings might be hurt, as soon 
as they got home Mr. Anderson told Gordon what a 
good, kind man he was, how that he was going to take 
care of him back to his own home, and that his face 
and hands were not dirty but only black. The next 
day Yomot called to see them. Gordon seemed anxious 
to atone for the mistakes of the day before, and did so 
by standing beside Yomot's chair most of the time, 
raising the big hands with his small hands, and repeat- 
ing with great glee — " not dirty, only black ". 


In January, 1879, there came on us the alarm of an 
attempt at assassination. It was a trying time, but 
brought us very close to our own Christian people, show- 
ing us what true friends they were. It was at a feast ^ 
at Unepang that the plot was hatched. The heathen 
noticed with growing alarm that they were losing ground 
and determined to make a big stand against Christianity 
— a scheme to kill all the teachers being proposed. The 
different chiefs were to ask me for teachers (but not all 
at the same time lest my suspicions should be aroused), 
until every district had one. Then, at a given time, 
all were to be massacred. " But," one of them remarked, 
"what is the good of that? Misi will just place out 
more teachers." " Kill him, for he is the noatnin, ' the 
root,' of it all, and the nesekil, ' snake,' who is working 
against us ; there have been many missionaries killed 
here, and, if we kill him, the white people will not dare 
to send another." It was arranged that a number of 
them were to bring us baskets of nuvsau, ' the down 
from the tree fern,' for sale. We had been asking for 
some, and they knew we would buy. All but two were 
to have their baskets weighed and paid for ; they had 
no intention of losing more money than was barely 
necessary for the success of their scheme. Two men 
were to be asked to do without their pay, for these were 
to be the murderers, and would be well rewarded for 
their unselfishness. While I was to be weighing their 
baskets and carefully looking at the scale of weights, 
they were to kill me ; if one man failed the other was 
to do it, and the friends outside would be ready to help 
at a moment's notice. When they had finished me, 
my wife and children were to be killed. It was cleverly 
and carefully planned, but a loving Father had us in 
His tender keeping, and allowed no evil to befall us. 
Unknown to our enemies, a young man about eighteen 


or twenty years old, who was friendly to us, heard the 
whole plot being discussed, and, slipping away, he 
hurried to Rampuntomasi and told Noye, our teacher 
there. The informer could never, of course, go back 
to his own land after that ; so he had to seek shelter 
with the Mission party. Noye at once sent two young 
men to let us know of our danger. They arrived during 
the night. In the confusion of hearing the news so 
suddenly, the alarm was raised that our enemies were 
even then coming down the valley, and, of course, all 
was excitement and dismay in a moment. The danger, 
though not so near us as we imagined, was yet real 
enough. Yomot came in to be with us. " They are 
always talking of coming ; now let them come," he said. 
Mrs. Robertson's first thought was of our three sleep- 
ing children. 

" Do you think they could touch them ? " she asked in 
distress. I am afraid I could not give her much com- 
fort ; I knew what fiends these heathen could be when 
roused. When Yomot came in, she turned to him 
saying, " Oh, Yomot ! do you think they would have 
the heart to touch our sleeping darlings 1 " 

With one of his expressive gestures he turned to her : 
" Mrs. Robertson, they will have to cut this body of mine 
in pieces ere ever they get near them ". How our hearts 
warmed to him, this brave and tender friend! 

Word was at once sent to friendly chiefs in every 
direction, and, before morning, our house was surrounded 
by about two hundred armed men, ready to die in our 
defence, if necessary. 

About nine o'clock that morning we saw hundreds of 
people coming down the track on Mount Gordon. Our 
foes had arrived, but we were prepared for them. They 
soon knew that the plot was out, and a number of them, 
not coming down into the valley at all, skirted the 


mountain on tliis side of the river and then went on to 
Sufu, a heathen village to the north of us. The better 
and less cowardly ones among them came down to our 
houses ; among them were Nariovi Nesepau, whom 
Nalial, a Christian chief, had, when still a heathen and 
at a nisekar or feast, saved from being killed by putting 
his arms right round him, though it might have meant 
death to himself. Nariovi saw the place thronged with 
people, and, turning to Nelat, one of our young men, 
said : " Why are you all armed .? " With a merry twinkle 
Nelat replied : " Oh ! we are only doing this just out of 
amusement". Tangkau began to speak to them then, 
and found out that the whole thing had been plotted 
exactly as we had heard. Some of them had been 
far from wanting to take our hves, but had been com- 
pelled to join the party, and now seemed rather relieved 
at the turn affairs had taken. Umko, the leader of the 
plot, a determined old heathen, died very suddenly 
soon after this. He was lying down, smoking in his 
siman-lo,^ and, a little after, his friends, who had called 
him and had got no answer, going over to the house 
found him dead. It was probably heart-disease, but, 
of course, the people — both his friends and ours — said 
it was a judgment on him for his sins. Certainly it had 
the effect of frightening all who were against us. Some 
of the friendly heathen, who had not known of the plot, 
were indignant when they heard of it, and sharply 
scolded the others for their treacherous conduct. Naling, 
the chief, and Tangkau wanted us to block all the 
roads to the south, and to forbid the people in those 
districts to visit us. We told them that that would 
never do. I was the missionary of the southern people 
as well as theirs, and we must just keep on doing our 
duty and trust in God to care for us. 

A large meeting was held the day after the alarm, 


and several rules drawn up: (ist) It was agreed to have 
a barter day — Wednesday — and on no other day to give 
out or buy anything. We soon changed the day to 
Thursday, as Wednesday was fully taken up with the 
prayer-meeting and other classes. On the barter day, 
the Dillon's Bay people were to stay near us. — (2nd) 
Nobody was to come into our premises unless clothed 
in some way, and a teacher or some reliable man must 
always come with strangers. — (3rd) No weapon of any 
kind would be allowed inside the mission grounds. 
The people all approved of this, and saw to it that the 
rules were kept. The young men resolved to keep 
guard round our house every night, and from twelve to 
sixteen of them undertook this work. I told them they 
must take it in watches, but they insisted that they 
could very well do without sleep, and would not hear 
of such a thing. I thought the best plan was to let 
them try. They kept up well for several nights, taking 
snatches of sleep in turns, and in no order at all. They 
always had a cup of hot tea and biscuits before going 
on guard. One night I slipped out to the verandah 
where they were, and found every man sound asleep ! I 
took every gun away, and piled them up inside the 
house, then roused the guard. Their dismay and shame 
at having been disarmed while sleeping were amusing to 
see ; but that served my purpose. The poor fellows 
were thoroughly worn out and simply could not keep 
awake, and were now only too ready to take proper 
watches of from three to four hours each. This was 
not kept up long. We never liked the idea of our house 
having to be guarded, and, as soon as possible, we 
persuaded the young men to give it up. The heathen 
seemed thoroughly ashamed of their conduct ; and on 
the other hand the alarm seemed to have had the effect 
of stirring up our own people to greater energy, both 
in caring for us and for the work of Christ on Erromanga. 



In the month of June, 1879, the Synod of the New 
Hebrides Mission was held at our station, Dillon's Bay, 
Erromanga. There were present Messrs. Paton, Cope- 
land, Mackenzie, Macdonald, Annand, Michelsen, Lawrie 
and myself. Mr. Annand was Moderator. The only 
ladies present, besides Mrs. Robertson, were Mrs. Paton 
and Mrs. Macdonald. Captain Braithwaite, of the Day- 
spring, was on shore every day, going many miles 
inland in search of plants. Auwang usually went with 
him, and, whenever the roads made it possible, our old 
horse, " Bessie," was taken for the captain's use. The 
business meetings were held in the old grass church, 
and the committee meetings, usually during the evenings, 
in our own house. It was very pleasant to my wife 
and myself to have the Synod at our place, and we 
had a delightful stretch of ten days of Christian fellow- 
ship with our friends. One Sunday, we joined together 
in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and on one week 
evening our Bible Society meeting was held. During 
Synod some excellent resolutions were passed, one of 
which was that natives desirous of joining the member- 
ship of the church must attend a special class for their 
instruction for at least a year. Native people cannot 
be too thoroughly trained to understand the Word of 
God clearly, and to realise what is implied in becoming 
a Christian. Many natives take to the profession of 



Christianity with very little consideration apparently, 
and we find that some of them, after they have joined 
the church, live very much like the masses around them. 
They abstain from evil, it is true, but they do little or 
no good. These are lukewarm Christians, and are very 
different from many of our people who have really given 
themselves to Christ and have His Holy Spirit in their 
hearts. The missionaries are getting more and more 
particular about whom they admit into church fellow- 
ship, and feel that in this matter especially, quality 
is of far greater importance than quantity. At this 
Synod Mr. Michelsen was appointed to Tongoa, and 
Mr. Macdonald and myself were to assist in his settle- 
ment. We had no Synod meetings in the afternoons, 
taking that part of the day for long walks through the 
valley, and sometimes up on to the table-land. The 
boat was always ready for any one wanting to go off 
to the Daysfring, or for those who could enjoy a row 
in the bay or up the river. 

There were several children of the missionaries also 
with us, and these, with our own three, kept the house 
lively. Nearly every afternoon they all had rides on 
old " Bessie " ; they looked upon these as very special 
treats. One lady of the party also mounted, and, being 
an expert rider, quite astonished every one by the 
strange antics her prehistoric charger was seen to indulge 
in. Soon we ceased to wonder at these sudden and 
unexpected movements of horsemanship before us, they 
were so many and so various, when a native, who up 
to that moment had been swinging round close to the 
horse's head, bounded like a flash past the horse's tail, 
and then fell in a heap near the trembling spectators 
thirteen yards off. The horse also wheeled round, 
bolted under a high cross-bar and disappeared. The 
lady had sat in the saddle through all this as calmly 


and with as much dignity and grace as if she had been 
holding a reception. But at the very instant that the 
horse shot under the bar, she shot up into the air, with 
apparently not the slightest effort, seemed to remain sus- 
pended for a moment and then floated down to the 
earth like a soft shadow, smiling as if nothing unusual 
had occurred. If indeed she thought it worth mention- 
ing at all, in writing her journal that evening, she may have 
added, " Had a delightful ride this afternoon ; mounted a 
lovely, quiet horse, quite young and so well trained ; must 
get my husband to procure, if possible, one just like this." 

Day after day the chief, teachers and people brought 
up presents of food, and, long before the missionaries 
had arrived, we had arranged the plan of work. Our 
people helped us admirably, each one knowing exactly 
his or her duty, and doing it with a hearty good-will. 
We never felt the care or burden of the work, for all — 
both visitors and helpers — were kind and considerate. 

The visit of so many missionaries for nearly two 
weeks, and the presence of the little mission vessel with 
her good captain and crew in our bay, had a very good 
effect on our people. The Mission cause on Erromanga 
seemed thenceforth to take a forward movement, and 
our work was blessed more and more every year. 

The settlement of Mr. Michelsen, later in the year, was 
a very interesting one. There was not one Christian on 
Tongoa when he began his work there in 1879. And now, 
not only have all the natives of that island become Chris- 
tian, but also all the people of Tongariki and the other 
islands of the Shepherd group, and also a goodly number 
on the south coast of Epi, all of whom have been gathered 
in through the efforts of Mr. Michelsen and his teachers. 

The arrival of our new church from Sydney in Sep- 
tember of this year was an important event to us at 


Dillon's Bay, and, indeed, all over the island. This was 
the outcome of my suggestion to Dr. Steel,i when he 
was in the islands five years before ; the church was to 
be a memorial to the martyrs of Erro manga. The Rev. 
W. Wyatt Gill 2 (afterwards Rev. Dr. Gill), of the London 
Missionary Society, had in 1862 collected a small sum 
to erect a monument to the memory of WiUiams and 
Harris. On account of the troubled state of the island, 
this was, at that time, impossible, and the money was 
put in a Bank. Dr. Steel had taken up warmly the idea 
of a church as a memorial for all the martyrs, and 
during 1878, with the consent of Mr. Gill and others, 
the sum of money collected so many years before — 
now grown to forty-six pounds — was added to the other 
contributions. Through the efforts of Dr. Steel a sum 
of, in all, two hundred pounds was collected ; this, with 
the exception of the forty-six pounds, was given princi- 
pally by friends in New South Wales. Dr. Steel sug- 
gested that we should try to have the church completed 
by November, 1879 — forty years from the date of the 
martyrdom of Williams and Harris. Much as I should 
have liked it, this was impossible in so short a time. 

The church was 40 ft. by 20 ft, and the frame was of 
Australian blue gum, to be weather-boarded ^ on the 
outside and the inner walls to be plastered. The roof 
was of corrugated iron ; windows and all fittings com- 
plete. We began the work of erection as soon as 
possible, and had it well in hand before the end of the 
year ; the foundation stone was laid by Usuo, the 
second son of Auwi-auwi, the murderer of John Williams. 
For many years Usuo had held out against the Gospel, 
and, though he often talked of " taking the nam',' ' the 
word,' that is, the Gospel Christianity, seemed hardened 
in heathenism. A short time before this, he and his 
brother, Tangkau, with Naliniwe, the chief of Soki and 


others, had attended a heathen feast at Unepang. The 
usual sham fight ^ had turned into a real one before any 
one realised it ; for there had at one time been bitter 
enmity between some of those present, and though 
it seemed to have died away it had now burst out 
afresh. The Unepang people turned on the North- 
erners, and blood was shed freely. Usuo was gashed 
on his face and head, and both Tangkau and Naliniwe 
got bad arrow wounds. One man ran to where the 
women were sitting, and, as he thought, perhaps, into 
safety, but was followed and literally hacked to pieces. 
Of course those who could do so fled. It was a narrow 
escape for the Dillon's Bay and Soki chiefs, and, the 
first time I saw Usuo after his return, he looked a sorry 
picture. He came down to see me one day, and I spoke 
seriously with him. I asked him if he did not think 
he had served the devil long enough ; he had given his 
youth and his manhood to him, and what had he gained ; 
now, he had nearly lost his life and had been badly 
wounded at one of the devil's feasts. I said : " Give it 
up, Usuo, my friend, and take Jesus for your Master 
now ; you have turned from Him all these years, but 
you can come now." He seemed touched by this, say- 
ing that he wanted to become a Christian, and from 
this time he would try to give up all his bad ways. He 
kept his word manfully, and, though his elder brother 
clung to heathenism for many a long day, Usuo came 
out and joined us. And as he had been taught to read by 
Mrs. Gordon, when a heathen boy, about twenty years 
before, he had this advantage that he could already read 
God's Word, and had not to begin at the very letters of the 
alphabet as so many men and women of his age have to do 
Mrs. Gordon's labour of love in teaching this young 
heathen boy is a touching lesson for us. For years, 
the effect of it seemed lost, and it was, no doubt, a 


grief to her to see him still living in heathenism and 
thinking so little of the " word " he had learned to read. 
But the seed had not been sown in vain ; and, but for 
his early training with Mrs. Gordon, Usuo might never 
have become the helpful, true and earnest Christian 
that he was. He has been a sincere friend to the 
Mission cause ever since he joined us m 1879, and has 
shown by his consistent hfe that he has really given 
his heart to the Saviour. Naling, the chief of Dillon's 
Bay, died in Sydney in 1879; then Usuo took his place, 
and, besides being chief, he has been a teacher for many 
years, and then an elder of our church on Erromanga. 

We kept hard at work all the summer on the new 
building, and, with the exception of the plastering, it 
was finished before May, 1880. However, we put off 
the opening for another month, hoping that by doing 
so we might have some of our fellow-missionaries with 
us. Early in June the people from far and near began 
to gather in. Unfortunately, the Dayspring did not 
arrive in time to let our friends be with us, and we 
thought it better not to keep the people from distant 
villages waiting too long. The opening service in " The 
Martyrs' Memorial Church " was deeply interesting. It 
was touching to hear Usuo, for the first time in his life 
in public, leading us in prayer. Others who, besides 
myself, took part in the service were Yomot, Atnelo, 
Netevisuo and Nauvi. Yomot's address was specially 
good ; he contrasted that day, when we were worshipping 
without fear or danger in our beautiful new church, 
with the early struggles of Joe and Mana and of the 
Gordons and Macnairs. I was struck with one remark 
of his. " Before long," he said, " before this generation 
has passed away, some here will tavrivri, that is, forget 
or be in ignorance of, the very netevaru, ' doings,' of 
heathenism." This has proved a true prophecy. At- 
nelo, too, spoke simply but earnestly, telling how, as a 


(side view.) 



^,Page 325. 


boy, he used to be tied and beaten foF coming to Mr. 
Gordon's classes. It was a thanksgiving service for our 
many mercies, not the least of these being the gift of a 
house in which to worship our God, and the occasion 
was one to be long remembered by us all. 

The Martyrs' ^ Memorial Church is ^ a very pretty 
building and very suitable to our climate. It is strong 
and substantial, stands in a good position a little to one 
side of the Mission house but on somewhat higher 
ground. It is said to seat two hundred people, but we 
find with even one hundred and fifty it is uncomfortably 
full. The tablet to the memory of the martyrs, which 
had been sent to Erromanga by Sydney friends some 
years before, was now placed in the new building. The 
inscription is in the native language, and the English 
translation of it is: — 

Sacred to the Memory 

of the Missionaries who died on this Island 



Killed at Umbongkora (Dillon's Bay) by the Natives 

November 30th, 1839. 



Killed by the People of Unepang 

May 20th, 1 86 1, 


Who died at Umbongkora (Dillon's Bay) 

July 1 6th, 1870. 


Killed at Potnuma (Portinia Bay) 

March 7th, 1872. 

" They hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus " (Acts xv. 26). 
"It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ 
Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (i Tim. i. is). 


Another tablet, with an inscription both in Erro- 
mangan and English reads as follows : — 

" This building, to the memory of the missionaries 
who were martyrs for Christ on Erromanga, was erected 
chiefly at the expense of friends of the Mission in New 
South Wales, in 1879." 

When the church was opened, it was announced that 
all who wished to attend services must come well clad — 
the men in shirts and trousers, and the women and girls 
in light print dresses ; boys were to be allowed to come 
wearing only the netoitingi, that is, the ' lava-lava ' or 
loin-cloth. We said we would help them in this as much 
as possible ; the matter of dress was then taken up 
enthusiastically. During the next week Mrs. Robertson 
and her women were up to their eyes in work, cutting 
out and fitting garments for all and sundry. It was 
surprising to see how well the people managed to pre- 
pare in that short time ; for, besides our own church- 
goers, who, as a rule, were well off in the matter of 
clothes, there were numbers of friendly heathen and 
new-comers who had to be provided for. The costumes 
the first Sunday were, to say the least, startling. Every 
man had on some kind of a coat or shirt, and trousers 
of all colours, shapes and sizes were not forgotten. One 
woman from Sufu, who, it seems, had not been able 
to obtain a dress in the time, ventured to the church 
door, but " bolted " after one look at the gorgeously 
attired congregation. Mrs. Robertson heard of it, and 
somehow or other succeeded in finding a dress for the 
lady. Naliniwe, Tangkau, Umas and others were, un- 
fortunately, shocked at the appearance of their wives ; 
the creatures looked far too slim, they said, and could 
not be allowed to appear in Society with so little on 
them. Yomot and Atnelo came in perplexity to me 
about it : " What do you think, Misi } Perhaps they had 


better put on a few of their own skirts ". Mrs Robert- 
son came to our help, explaining that she had never 
intended the women to leave off all their native skirts, 
but only a few of them, so that they might appear less 
like balloons than usual; so that the rest of us might 
have room to turn round in the church. The aggrieved 
husbands, after a little, seemed to understand matters 
better and took the affair more calmly. They v/ere told, 
too, that we did not insist on their wives forsaking their 
skirts for European clothes, just as we did not insist on 
their coming to the church. But, as they wanted to 
come to the services, we felt sure that they would respect 
our wishes and those of our Christian people, and come 
into God's House in the very best attire that they could 
get. After that there was no more trouble. 

The new church was a great comfort to us and our 
people. We could then reserve our schoolroom for 
classes only, and now, more than in the earlier years, 
all our classes were very well attended. Besides the 
early morning school, Mrs. Robertson still had her class 
of young people and children from about ten till twelve 
o'clock, while for an hour every evening the young men 
came to me for reading, etc. We always set their copy 
books the night before, in order that they could be used 
by daylight and corrected the following evening. Com- 
monly natives are poor writers ; they do not take enough 
pains at the outset, and are in too great a hurry to dis- 
tinguish themselves by sending away documents to 
friends before they can form a single letter properly. 
And when they do get to that habit their case is hopeless. 
However, in those who do take pains we are well repaid 
for our teaching. Some of our people write good, clear 
hands ; Yomot's letters were always neat and easily 
read. Ugkerilo, one of my teachers, writes the prettiest, 
clearest hand of any native I know, and it is a pleasing 


contrast to the handwriting of some white people. He 
is rather a delicate man, cannot go about much, and so 
is a great correspondent. I have notes regularly from 
him, though he lives only a few miles south of us. 
His missives are easily read, but one never knows what 
request he is going to make. He is a really good man 
and an excellent teacher, but is also a bit of a bore 
sometimes. Lately, when he was staying at Dillon's 
Bay for a short time on account of his illness, he 
practised writing all the time. One day he was to write 
me a letter on any subject he liked. " What could he 
write about ? " he said. " Anything ; it does not matter 
what, if the letter is neatly written and well punctuated." 
It came to me that evening — a long, carefully worded 
account of our Erromangan Mission, with the writer's 
thoughts and criticisms on it, and an earnest exhorta- 
tion to us all to strive on in this great work. It was 
a very good letter — quite a sermon in itself ; but then 
there was a postscript, " Misi, do you think you could 
spare me a little rice for my soup to-morrow } " He is 
great on dates, and is most particular to mention the 
day, month, and even year on which any incident that 
he considers important took place. 

One fortunate thing is that those who are in our 
classes — both men and women — seem really fond of 
writing, and some, as I have said, do take the utmost 
pains to improve. We had a fine number of young 
people about us at the time of which I am speaking, and 
it was a pleasure to teach them. The class for candi- 
dates was held then, as now, once a week, and on the 
same day as the prayer meeting. Atnelo, who was then 
teacher, was very helpful, and took his full share of 
the work. I still kept up my plan of visiting other 
villages every second Sunday, spending the whole day 
away from the mission station, and Atnelo took turn 


about with me in this. He was one of the most gentle 
of men, and in some ways, though both were excellent 
teachers, a decided contrast to our good Yomot, whose 
brusque manner sometimes told against him. Yomot 
almost compelled the people to come in ; Atnelo drew 
them. They were afraid to disobey Yomot, but could 
not help obeying Atnelo. Both were noble men, and 
each did his work of evangelisation as he only could 
do it. Atnelo had been baptised by Mr. James Gordon ; 
his surname was Mackie — Atnelo Mackie, after the late 
Rev. George Mackie, of South Yarra, Melbourne, a 
very great friend of our Mission and of Mr. Gordon in 

One of the first ceremonies arranged to take place 
in the new church was Ativi's wedding — a wedding 
which never came off! Ativi was a short, squat man, 
belonging to a village to the south of Dillon's Bay. 
He was not much of a favourite with anybody, and, to 
this day, is perhaps the most disagreeable man on the 
whole island ; he always seems to have some grievance, 
and usually is hard to manage. The wife who was 
picked out for him was one of Mrs. Robertson's best 
helpers, a very nice-looking girl, with a bright, sweet 
face, very capable and well-liked by every one. Mrs. 
Robertson used to say that Navusia was the only girl 
she had who could do rough, dirty work and yet keep 
clean herself. Ativi had already bought another girl 
for a wife, and he was told that he could only have 
Navusia (should she herself be willing) by giving up 
all claim to Nanepen, who, as she was still a child, was 
living with her own people. The man was not for doing 
this at first, and, with the help of his friends, tried to 
steal Navusia away. We heard of the plot through 
Atnelo, to whose house the girl had fled, and we took 


good care that she should sleep on the Mission premises 
after that. The matter seemed to drop for a httle, and 
then, Ativi behaving himself better, it was brought up 
again. The Rampuntomasi people, Yomot included, 
wanted the match ; the Dillon's Bay people were against 
it. Naiwan, the young chief of Dillon's Bay, had been 
suggested as a suitable husband for Navusia, and she 
rather favoured the idea, not that she cared for Naiwan, 
but he was decidedly an improvement on Ativi, whom 
she evidently disliked. " Of two evils," she wisely 
decided to " choose the less." Mrs. Robertson and I 
spoke to her by herself, and she told us very plainly that 
she did not want Ativi. What was our surprise to hear 
in a little that, on being questioned by her friends, she 
had said that she was quite willing, but that Misi did 
not want her to marry that man, and she could not dis- 
obey him ! Of course, the girl said that to protect herself. 
I said : " Very well ; you will soon see that Misi is not 
stopping the match ; now that Navusia is willing, they 
will be married this afternoon ". 

Mrs. Robertson gave the girl a pretty new dress, and 
sent her away to get ready for the ceremony. I sent 
for Ativi, and, in the presence of Yomot and Atnelo, 
who represented the two contending parties, got him to 
give up all claim to little Nanepen. He was so delighted 
at the prospect of getting Navusia that he would have 
promised anything. 

Ativi's wedding day was rather an unfortunate one 
for another person, old Novwai Simon, who had been 
a " sorcerer," and had lately joined the Christian party. 
It was time for the service, and no one was near to ring 
the bell ; just then old Simon appeared. 

I said to him, " Simon, do you think you could ring the 
bell ?" ''Kai, ' I don't know,' Misi, but I can at least try ; " 
and so straightway he set to work. I had scarcely left 


him when, it seems, my son Gordon, a child then about 
four or five years old, appeared on the scene, and rated 
Simon soundly in Erromangan for not ringing the bell 
properly. " Give it a good hard pull as the other men 
do," he said. Poor old Simon, who would never dream 
of questioning Gordon's wisdom, determined to do his 
best. Unfortunately, he had lost an eye, and did not 
see that the framework or rough box which covered the 
bell was shaky. He stood right under it, and obeying 
orders, gave one long, hard pull, and the next thing 
he knew was that he was lying on his back, the box 
beside him, and Gordon nowhere to be seen. The poor 
fellow was badly cut about the face, especially the nose, 
where the box had grazed him after striking on one 
of the wooden supports. Gordon fled to tell me of the 
disaster, but poor old Simon seemed rather to doubt 
his innocence in the matter. I went over to him at 
once, sending for Atnelo to ring the bell, and doctored 
the bruises as well as I could. The accident might have 
been far more serious ; it was bad enough, but the whole 
affair was very ludicrous, and it was as much as I could 
do to keep a sober face, while I could see Atnelo, with 
his face discreetly turned away from us, trying to ring 
the bell and shaking with laughter at the same time. 

Soon we were all in the church. I had bidden every- 
body be present, especially those who had been against 
the match, and so the building was well filled. Mrs. 
Robertson had headache and fever, and could not come 
over. Ativi stalked in after a little, dressed in a long 
white, flowing nightshirt — nothing else ! It had evidently 
belonged to a much taller man, for he was " floating " 
in it. It was the most curious get-up for a bridegroom 
that I have ever seen. The service began, but after a 
little, when I looked round I could see no sign of the 
bride. I slipped over and said to old Navusia : " Where 


is your namesake?" " Kai, 'I don't know,'" she said. 
There seemed trouble ahead ; so calhng on a long- 
winded man to engage in prayer, I went over to our 
house, and asked Mrs. Robertson where the girl was. 
" I thought she was in the church ; I sent her some time 
ago," she said. I found Navusia at last, sitting in our 
wash-house, in her everyday garments — grass skirts and 
a print jacket — and hacking away at the seat she was on 
with a big butcher's knife. She said she would " never 
marry that man ". 

I went back to the church then, and sent to her 
Yomot and Atnelo that they might hear her words 
themselves. They misunderstood me, and stupidly 
brought her with them to the church, thinking I was 
going to question her there. Mrs. Robertson had been 
lying down, but now caught sight of them going across, 
Yomot and Atnelo leading, and Navusia following very 
unwillingly, and she at once concluded that the girl 
was being taken over to be married. She rushed to 
the church, and put her head in at the window. I never 
saw my wife look more indignant : " If you and these 
teachers force this poor girl to marry against her wishes, 
you will surely suffer for it ". " My dear, we are not 
thinking of such a thing," I said ; " the men have made 
a mistake ; I did not mean the girl to come over at all." 
Navusia was still standing outside, and I sent out to 
question her. In a little Yomot came in. " Well, 
Yomot?" I said. " She says she loathes the man, and 
will never marry him." 

It was an honest report of Yomot's, for he had wanted 
the match. I turned round on the people then, telling 
them they could see now whether Misi was stopping 
the match or not. I did not blame Ativi as much as 
those of his friends who had tried to hurry on and force 
the match. All this time, the poor man had been sitting 


looking the picture of woe. He must have felt acutely 
when he heard Yomot giving his report. The service 
closed abiuptly, and, just as I was going out, I happened 
to look back, and saw Naiwan, the young chief of 
Dillon's Bay and Ativi's rival, shaking hands with and 
congratulating him heartily. One or two more followed, 
and a whole string of young fellows expecting some 
fun were waiting their turn, while poor Ativi stood per- 
spiring under all this ridicule. I put a stop to all that 
qmvkly, lor I was very sorry for him, and it was un- 
kind of the young men to add to his misery. I told 
him to come and see me that evening, as I wanted to 
have a talk with him. When he came, I told him that, 
though we had disapproved of the match all along, 
Mrs. Robertson and I felt much sympathy for him. He 
could see now how it would have been ; they could never 
have been happy. His best plan now was to look for a 
wife, who would not want to run away from him, and 
who would be more suitable than Navusia. 

But the man was angry, and told me that he was 
going south to get the Unepang people to help him, and 
that then they would come back and burn our house 
to the ground. That was enough for me. I said : " I 
was sorry for you, Ativi, and was willing to help you, 
but after this I am different. How dare you speak to 
me like this ? If you don't get out of that door and 
down those steps as quickly as you ever did in your life, 
I will help you out." He took the hint and made off 
in haste, and that same night he struck out across the 
river, vowing vengeance on all at Dillon's Bay. One 
of our missionaries wrote home that he " tucked his 
nightshirt under his arm, and, without ever looking 
back, swam to the other side of the river ". I can't be 
quite sure of the correctness of this statement; but 


whatever Ativi did with his wonderful wedding gar- 
ment that was the last time that we ever saw it. 

To make the story end properly, I ought to be able 
to say that Navusia married Naiwan, but this did not 
happen. She became the wife of Novolu Naiyup, a 
young teacher, and for many years they were among our 
best helpers in the Mission. They were for some time 
with Mr. and Mrs. Michelsen on Tongoa, and there, too, 
Navusia endeared herself to all by her sweet and gentle 
Christian influence. 

I have, in a previous chapter, told of Watata's mar- 
riage. The only other match that I contrived to make 
was that of Numpunia and Sole. Numpunia had been 
with Mrs. Robertson ever since we landed on Erro- 
manga, and had given us much satisfaction and help. 
She and Nuferuvi, Molep's wife, had both been con- 
verted under Mr. Gordon's teaching. Numpunia had 
for a time been with Mrs. Macnair, who, however, could 
make nothing of her, finding her unreliable and flighty. 
But she grew steadier as she grew older. Utevo again 
had been Mrs. Macnair's best help, but we found her 
very liard to manage. Numpunia had many peculiar 
ways ; she had not Navusia's gentleness of manner nor 
sweet disposition, but withal was a good, honest, pains- 
taking girl, and one who was always eager to atone for 
a fault. Mrs. Robertson was very fond of her. Soon 
after our arrival on Erromanga Numpunia was baptised, 
and a Christian namd was added from Mrs. Milne, of 
Nguna, who had once spent a short time with Mrs. 
Macnair at Dillon's Bay, and whom Navusia greatly 
admired. By the first trip of the Dayspring to the 
north, unknown to us, the lady wrote to Mrs. Milne, 
telling her that she had received her name, and suggest- 
ing that Mrs. Milne (in consideration of the honour 


shown her, I suppose) should send by return of the 
vessel a dress and one or two handkerchiefs. Mrs. 
Milne was amused at the girl's " cheek," but did not 
fail to send the required goods. 

Numpunia had a mind of her own, and had already 
given a decided " no " to two or three suitors. It was 
she who had made the scornful remarks about Watata's 
age, fearing that we might want her to take pity on 
him. We had, living near us at this time, a nice young 
man named Sole, who was being trained as a teacher, 
and it seemed to me that we could not do better than 
bring about a match between the two. Since that time 
I have " had my eye teeth cut," and know better than 
to interfere in marriage arrangements. Sole was help- 
ing me to lay the floor of our verandah, when I sug- 
gested my plan to him. He seemed rather pleased with 
it, saying that it was aremai, ' good '. I said that if 
Numpunia were willing to have him, he must not be 
afraid of the talk of her friends ; he must atekisah. " Ko, 
ya anaiekisah, ' I will strive for it,' " he replied. Fortu- 
nately for us Numpunia was willing, and, when I spoke 
about it to Noye, her step-father and one of my earliest 
and best teachers, he seemed delighted, and made no 
objection whatever. 

Everything seemed to be going on propitiously until 
the very last, when some of the Dillon's Bay people, 
Usuo and Tangkau especially, made all kinds of ob- 
jections, and used what the natives called "hard talk'* 
to Noye. Noye was indignant, and said to Usuo : 
" You have my sister " (he called Usuo's wife his sister) ; 
" you are not going to get my daughter, too." We 
thought it best that the ceremony should not take place 
in the church but in our own house, and with none 
present except those who were willing that the marriage 
should go on. Numpunia and Sole seemed to feel that 


it was a big honour, and quite a crowd gathered in 
our sitting-room for the occasion. Mrs. Robertson 
dressed Numpunia herself, and the girl looked really 
pretty in her simple attire. The usual way is for the girl 
to be tied up in a number of shawls with one or two 
dresses under them, and the head almost covered by a 
big handkerchief. With the exception of those who 
have lived near the Mission station and know better, 
most of our women, however well they may dress ordin- 
arily, contrive to look their worst on their wedding-day. 
Just before the service began, and much to our surprise, 
Tangkau appeared at the door, and begged to be allowed 
in. He said he had not come to make trouble ; he 
only wanted to see the marriage, and, as he seemed so 
eager, we allowed him to come in. The old man came 
on tip-toe into the room, sat down beside the others, and 
never stirred till the whole thing was over, going away 
then as quietly as he had come. The semi-private 
ceremony had evidently made a sensation. 

Soon after the marriage the Dayspring arrived. Mr. 
and Mrs. Macdonald were in need of domestic help, 
so we arranged that Sole and Numpunia should go to 
them. Nelat came down to tell us that some of the 
people were determined to prevent them going. There 
was great excitement, but Sole and his wife went on 
quietly getting ready, and we were soon down at the 
boat. There was a big crowd on the shore, and some 
angry faces in it, but no one dared to make trouble 
then ; the whole thing ended in talk. Just as the boat 
was leaving the shore one old mischief-maker rose and 
waved his hand derisively to the girl, saying, " Kik-e- 
pau, nasiven" meaning, ' my love to you, woman,' or, 
' good-bye, you woman,' which, in Erromangan, is a most 
offensive salutation. After they were some time at 
Havannah Harbour, Mr. Macdonald's station on Efate, 


the couple returned and were placed out as teachers 
at Cook's Bay, where they did excellent work until poor 
Sole's death. 

Shortly before we left for Canada I married Num- 
punia again — this time to Nelat. Atnelo had then be- 
come a widower, and, hearing that Numpunia had been 
an old " flame " of his, I gave him the first choice, but 
he politely declined the honour. " To marry her would 
be nemas, ' death,' Misi ; for she has two children and 
I should have to look after them as well as her." After 
Nelat and Numpunia had been some time teaching at 
Elizabeth Bay, they agreed, on our return from Canada, 
to go and help Mr. and Mrs. Charles Murray on Am- 
brim. Mr. Murray had spoken to me about it at the 
Synod, and, as soon as the Dayspring brought us to 
Erromanga, I sent for Nelat and his wife. It was 
cheering to see their willingness for this ; we had no 
trouble at all. Their boxes were soon in the boat, 
and that same evening they were away in the Day- 
spring. Mr. Murray was very glad to get them, and 
soon settled them out at a village some distance from 
his station. 

When I went north in the Cairndhu, in 1887, ^ saw 
them both. Captain Eyre very kindly sent his boat 
for them, which saved them a long walk. They seemed 
delighted with their work, and pleased to tell me about 
it. Mr. Murray was leaving Ambrim at the time, and 
they, especially Nelat, were very much grieved to say 
good-bye to him. They still stayed on at Ambrim, the 
Mission station being left under the care of one of 
Mr. Mackenzie's teachers, Kalsong, and his wife, who 
are now with Mr. Watt on Tanna. One day, some 
time after this, when Nelat was away at his plantation, 
an old heathen woman came and asked Numpunia to 


go and eat some food with her. Numpunia thanked her, 
but said that she could not go, as she had her children 
to look after. The old woman replied that she would 
send the food to her. When it came, poor Numpunia 
ate a little of it, and very soon after died in great 
agony; the food had been poisoned. Neither Nelat 
nor any one else could ever find out the cause for this ; 
for Numpunia seemed to have no enemies, and could 
have had no suspicion at all when she accepted the 
old woman's gift. Her death was a great shock to us 
and to all her friends. 

After the manner of the old minister who had been a 
lifetime in one charge, I can tell that I baptised Num- 
punia ; married her ; baptised her child, Wamlai ; 
married Wamlai ; and, on 30th April, 1 899, I baptised 
Wamlai's child. 

During the summer of 1879- 1880, I was busy building 
a house at Port Nariven or Potnariven. After the 
Cook's Bay house was destroyed, we arranged to make 
Port Nariven our head station on the east side of the 
island, for it was more central and in every way better 
suited for what was needed. The " Kirk " of the Lower 
Provinces of Canada had sent us twenty-five pounds to 
be used in whatever way we deemed best, and we 
thought we could not do better than put it to the new 
house. Our generous Watata gave five pounds, nearly 
all his savings. The house cost sixty-four pounds, and 
consisted of two rooms, twenty feet by thirty feet, and 
a verandah ; it was weather-boarded and had a thatched 
roof. A few years ago, we took away the thatch and 
put on corrugated iron. We spend a few months yearly 
at our east station, and the house has been very useful 
to us. 

While I was framing it, we stayed for some time at 


Port Nariven, but our only dwelling had been a small 
grass hut, and it was not too comfortable. It was very 
damp ; so I laid a rough floor in one room. 

One Sunday night, we caught sight of a rat upon one 
of the rafters of the house ; its sides were panting, and it 
was crouching as if terror-struck. It was not long before 
we saw the cause — a great snake, over four feet in 
length, stretched out a few feet from it. It was far 
from a pleasant sight, and I hurried out to get some one 
to come and shoot it. The men said that that would 
not do ; that it would be better to catch it and bring 
it down. Among natives, there are those who can touch 
a snake without the least fear, and others again who 
will never go near one, if they can help. That night, 
unfortunately, there seemed to be no " snake man '' 
handy, but, after a little, a man called Lifu Torileki 
gained courage and said he would catch it, if I would 
give him something to put on his hands. I gave him 
a pair of socks to do duty as gloves, and very soon 
he had climbed the big centre-pole of the house, and 
managed to grab the snake at the back of its neck. 
Needless to say, the rat decamped. I wanted to pre- 
serve the snake, but Mrs. Robertson begged to have 
it taken right away ; so I told the men to kill it. They 
said they would, but would like to have a talk with it 
first. So, tying a rope round its neck and making sure 
that it would not escape them, they set to work to 
reprove it for its bad conduct. " What do you mean, 
you nareki sat, ' sinner,' by going into Misi's house with- 
out asking any one's leave, and at this hour of the 
night ? " There was an old heathen standing near. 
" Yes, and on the Sabbath Day, too," he said, with a 

Mrs. Robertson felt that she could not stay any longer 


in that house ; this incident had given her too much of 
a fright ; so I took her and the children back to Dillon's 
Bay. We started at two o'clock on Tuesday morning, 
and went up the mountain to Arawau by torchlight. 
By eight o'clock we had crossed the third stream and 
were right out of the forest and on the clear table-land 
of West Erromanga. We sat down and had breakfast 
and a good rest, which Mrs. Robertson especially sorely 
needed. Her skirts were draggled and damp with the 
long walk, and there was still a long journey ahead of 
us. I was glad, for her sake, when we reached Dillon's 
Bay, and were in our own comfortable house again. 
I stayed one day there, and then went back to Port 

After putting up the framework of the house, I left 
for home again while the men were thatching the roof. 
They let me know of it as soon as that work was 
finished, when I went and did the weather-boarding. 
The house was beautifully thatched ; everyone had 
taken the utmost pains with the work. The men 
plastered the inside of the rooms. Yomot laid all the 
floor himself, and laid it well. The entire framing was 
done with the help of two of my young teachers — Uturu 
and Lifu Ukina — both bright and capable fellows. 
Ukina had been in the Day spring with Captain Braith- 
waite, who was very fond of him, and used to say that 
he was " the smartest man, white or black," that he had 
ever had in his ship. 

It was towards the close of 1880 that we lost Soso, 
the warm friend of the Mission. He had been Dr. 
Gordon's ■pundit'! and wrote the letter to Mr. Baton 
telling of the missionary's tragic death. When we 
settled on Erromanga in 1872, he was in charge of the 
station at Dillon's Bay. Soon after this, we placed 


him at Cook's Bay, then at Arawau, and finally at Port 
Nariven. He did good work wherever he was. He was 
a sincere follower of Christ, and an able and faithful 
teacher, with (for a native) a wonderful knowledge of 
the Bible. He had for years been troubled with 
elephantiasis in one leg, and the disease gradually 
worked through his whole system. He became very 
weak, and for some time before his death could do 
no active work. I was not surprised when the message 
came from him saying that he would like to see me once 
more before the end. I left Dillon's Bay almost at 
once, arriving at Port Nariven late in the afternoon. 
Netai was with Soso, and doing all that he could to 
lessen his sufferings. The dying man was quite con- 
scious, and seemed so pleased to see me. I was very 
much touched when I heard how he had been longing 
and praying that he might be spared till after my arrival. 
The next morning I went to see him again. We had a 
long and delightful talk ; dear Soso telling me, as he 
had always loved to do, of Mr. Gordon's work and of 
all he had done for him. He knew his end was near, 
and was not only resigned but joyous at the thought of 
so soon meeting his Saviour. When I said good-bye 
to him (I had to return very soon to Dillon's Bay), I 
asked if there was anything that he would like me to 
do for him before I left. He answered me so brightly, 
saying that he needed nothing ; he had just wanted to 
grasp my hand once more and to tell me that he was 
resting and trusting in Jesus. Soso " knew in whom 
he had believed," and was just waiting in his simple 
childlike faith for the call to go home. A few days 
after my return to Dillon's Bay the news of his death 

In March of the following year, the Sacrament of the 


Lord's Supper was dispensed at Cook's Bay. Besides 
the Christian party — church members and adherents — 
there were present many of the heathen and semi- 
heathen, in all eight hundred and fifty people. Crowds 
came pouring in every day, and before long it was easy 
to see that there was a great deal of excitement among 
them all. Several women, among them Tahamen, the 
widow of one of my teachers, were to be baptised, and 
their heathen friends were determined to prevent it. 
"We expected that there would be trouble over this, but 
had no idea how angry the heathen were. On the 
very morning of the Communion service, Atnelo came 
to me, and told me that there was a deep plot among 
the men of Nugkon-nu to seize the women if we should 
attempt to baptise them, and to pay us out for daring 
to interfere with their wishes. They were determined 
at any cost to stop the baptism. Atnelo asked me 
what we should do. " We will go on with the service," 
I said ; " and I will speak to the heathen before any 
one is baptised." I felt that they had really no claim 
to any of the women, especially to Tahamen, whose 
husband had been a teacher for many years, and who 
was herself a sincere Christian. 

Atnelo and I had just finished talking of the trouble 
when my door opened and in stalked Uluhoi, an old 
heathen, though friendly to us. He had nothing on 
but a black-lustre skirt, trimmed with a number of frills. 
He had evidently come to see me on some matter of 
importance, and looked as solemn as a judge. I burst 
out laughing at the ridiculous figure he cut, and, before 
there was time to make any apology, Uluhoi had drawn 
his skirt around him and stalked out again in high 
dudgeon. However, we soon made matters right, and 
Uluhoi and I were as good friends as ever. This same 
man, some years before, had in kindness brought hot 


taro to us on a wet, stormy day, when we had touched 
for an hour or so at his village on our way round the 
island in our boiat. As a young man he had been in 
Queensland ^ with a friend of his called Noai. He used 
to tell with great gusto how Noai was a " very lazy 
man," and was always shamming sickness there. He 
would enjoy himself " loafing " about until his master 
or overseer appeared in the distance ; then he would be 
m his house like a shot, and, by the time he was inter- 
viewed, would have violent pains in every part of his 
body. After some time of this, his master began to 
grow suspicious, and one day insisted on knowing where 
the pains were. After finding out where they were 
not, he said, " Well ! what is the matter with you .'' I 
think you gainmonr'^ "Oh, no!" said Noai, with an 
injured air, " me no gammon ; sickness he gone inside ! " 
It was soon time for our service, and the people began 
to gather. When I went over to the large church, 
which had been specially built for the occasion, I saw, 
besides our own people, the crowds of angry, determined 
heathens who had seated themselves just outside the 
building and close to where I would stand, and where 
the candidates for baptism had already taken their 
places. The leader of them all was Uviliau, a real 
mischief-maker, and one who had often given trouble to 
the Christians. Before I began, I spoke to him and to 
his followers, telling them that these women had, of 
their own free will, come forward to receive baptism 
and to profess their faith in Christ. I said I intended 
to go on with the service, and they would have to 
answer, not to us, but to God, if they dared to interfere 
in such a solemn ordinance. I then said that we would 
pray. On this, Netai, who was sitting near me, said 
in a rather loud whisper, "You can shut your eyes, 
Misi, but I am not going to shut mine". During the 


baptism of the women not a person stirred ; the would- 
be murderers (for murder was their intention if they 
were thwarted) sat staring at us all, seeming afraid to 
make even the slightest movement. It was very touch- 
ing to see these women, who were braving so much, 
standing up in the face of their enemies to confess their 
faith in Christ, and we felt that in all this trouble God 
was very near to them and to us. The heathen left 
Cook's Bay very quietly, and seemed, for the time at 
least, thoroughly subdued. 

Tahamen lived on at Cook's Bay for a number of 
years. In 1890, Mrs. Robertson sent word that she 
wanted her to come and nurse our baby, Lilian ; and 
Tahamen at once came across the hills to Dillon's 
Bay. What a devoted nurse she was ! As Mrs. Robert- 
son was not strong enough to have the child constantly 
with her, Lilian, with her two nurses, Notong and Taha- 
men, had a room near, and was tended night and day, 
turn about, by these two faithful women. When the 
child was about two years old and was about to go with 
her mother to Sydney, she showed very plainly her 
fondness for her native nurses, clinging to them and 
crying lustily when they had to say good-bye on the 
steamer. Notong, who was also feeling it keenly, kissed 
her over and over again, but Tahamen just gave the 
child one caress, and then, with her lips tightly closed 
and her eyes streaming with tears, turned, and without 
a word to any on^ else, stepped down into the boat. 
When dear Ohai died, Tahamen took her place as cook. 
Some years ago Mrs. Robertson thought she was not 
strong enough for that, and asked her just to stay on 
and help her in looking after and traming the younger 
girls. She had her own house quite near ours, where 
the girls slept with her. Every day, when she was well, 
the faithful woman was at work, and, like Ohai, she 


never idled. It was a comfort to have one so reliable 
and trustworthy near us. Tahamen was a tall, straight, 
fine-looking woman, with clear-cut features, and had 
a most loving heart, though she often " bottled " up her 
feelings and rarely showed a sign of emotion. At the 
time of her death we were away. She had been left in 
charge of the Mission premises, and now sent for Lalim 
Nimpu and said to her : " Lalim, I am dying. Misi's 
house was left in my care ; I give you charge of it now, 
and you must take care of it till they come. Give them 
all my love — I never ' broke their word ' ^° — and tell 
them that I looked faithfully after everything as long as 
I could." The women say that she suffered a great deal, 
but was anxious to give no trouble to those who were 
looking after her. We miss her very much ; she was so 
loving and true, and through all the years since she was 
admitted a Church member at Cook's Bay she lived 
such a sincere and consistent Christian life. 

Our next Communion was held at Dillon's Bay in 
July, 1882. It was not such a large gathering as that 
of Cook's Bay, there being just six hundred and twelve 
people present, but I think we never had a more touching 
or sacred service on Erromanga, We were intending 
to leave very shortly for our trip to Canada, and a great 
number of people had been attending my classes and 
had now come forward for baptism. Among the two 
hundred and ten church members, one hundred and ten 
were admitted that day, and two of these were " Daniel " 
Usuo and Numpunari Williams, sons of Auwi-auwi, the 
murderer of John Williams, and Lilea, their young half- 
brother. Yomot and Atnelo were ordained as " elders ". 
We had intended meeting in the Martyrs' Memorial 
Church, but found that it would be small — even for the 
church members — and it would have been a great dis- 
appointment to the many other Christians and even the 


half-heathen not to be present at the service. So we 
held our Communion in the open air, on the grass near 
our own house. The women, in their simple, bright- 
coloured prints, and pretty handkerchiefs on their heads, 
were seated in one long line, and the men, also well and 
neatly clad, in another. The weather was perfect. It 
was a deeply interesting service to us all, and 1 thought 
I had never seen a more touching sight. As the emblems 
of Christ's broken body and shed blood were passed 
down the rows of dusky worshippers — many of whom 
had once been determined enemies of the Gospel, some 
of them even canibals — we lifted up our hearts in grati- 
tude to God, who had so blessed us in His work, and 
had brought such a glad day to dark Erromanga. 

That winter we had an epidemic of influenza, and I 
took it badly myself. It was not long till H.M.S. 
Espiegle came to anchor in our bay, and when Captain 
(now Rear-Admiral) Bridge came on shore and saw my 
plight, he very kindly sent off at once asking the doctor 
to come and see me. The influenza had turned to slight 
congestion of the lungs, but, under God's blessing and 
by Dr. Dunlop's skill and attention, I soon became well. 
We could not feel grateful enough to both the captain 
and himself, as well as to the other officers, for their 
many kindnesses. The Espiegle's visit was a delightful 
one. On the Sunday evening that she was at anchor, 
Lieut. Lowry brought the men on shore, and had a short 
service and singing with them in our sitting-room. Al- 
though I was not in the room, my own was near it, and 
with the doors ajar I could hear — and with much enjoy- 
ment — the strong musical voices singing one after an- 
other of the old familiar hymns. 

From the time of our settlement, and soon after the 
visit of Captain Moresby in the Basilisk, we have had 
a large number of H.M.'s ships here, and, without an 


exception, these visits have been very pleasant. Many 
of the officers and men have been deeply interested in 
our work. The natives make a great fuss v^hen a man- 
of-war is sighted, and the " Sail-oh "-ing and cheering 
are tremendous. They look upon them as of nearly 
as great importance as the Dayspring ; the little white 
vessel had always the first place. So many of the 
captains of H.M.'s ships have invited them to go off and 
see over the ships that the people are always greatly 
interested in everything. And the perfect order and 
cleanliness is in itself a valuable object-lesson. These 
ships leave behind them no trail of evil, nor heart- 
burnings, on shore, and always get a warm welcome from 
our people and ourselves. 

Soon after the Espiegle left us, we took a trip in the 
Dayspring as far north as Epi, and were present at 
the settlement of the Rev. R. M. and Mrs. Eraser, of the 
Tasmanian Church, who had just arrived from Scot- 
land. In November, the Dayspring again came from 
Sydney, and on board were Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie, 
returning from their visit to Canada. They had had a 
warm welcome there, and were now eager to begin 
work again. Meanwhile the Rev. Wm. and Mrs. Gray, 
from the Presbyterian Church of South Australia, had 
been settled at Weasisi, Tanna. A few months after 
this, Dr. and Mrs. Gurm, from the Free Church of Scot- 
land, arrived, and took up work on Futuna, but as by 
that time we were on our way home we did not meet 
them until our return in 1884. 

On the 7th of December, the Dayspring returned from 
the north. Neither Mrs. Robertson nor I can forget 
the love that was shown to us by our people when we 
had to say good-bye, and I think we had no idea till 
then how much we loved them. About five hundred 


people had been gathering in for days before, from all 
parts of the island. That morning we had a short 
farewell service and also a marriage — that of Sempent 
and Numpunivi — in the church. I asked the people 
not to come off to the ship, but to say good-bye to us 
on the shore. Atnelo was left in charge of the station, 
while our dear, faithful, old Ohai was to look after our 
house during our absence. She was the nurse of our 
daughter Annie, and felt keenly parting with her and 
her mother. When Mrs. Robertson went to say good-bye 
to her neither of them could speak a word, and Mrs. 
Robertson came to me and said, " Do go and speak to 
our poor Ohai ; I can't ; and she is feeling it all so 
much". I went and asked her for a drink of water 
(though I no more wanted to drink it than to fly), and 
she got it for me at once, handing it to me without a 
word. I could see her mouth twitching as she tried to 
keep back the tears. I am afraid my going to talk 
to her did not do much good after all, but she knew 
what we, too, were feeling, and that we shared her 
grief. The natives were ranged in two long rows from 
our house to the shore, and we walked down between 
them, shaking hands with every one. After all the 
good resolutions, when it came to the last there was a 
general rush to the shore, and even there the women 
clung to and cried over Mrs. Robertson and the children. 
Captain and Mrs. Braithwaite were both with us, and 
Mrs. Braithwaite said, " I will never believe after this 
that natives have no affection ". I said : " Captain, 
can't you do anything to show our gratitude ? " " That 
will be all right," was his hearty answer ; and almost 
at once, at a sig^ from the boat, the little Day- 
spring s guns boomed out a salute. Mrs. Robertson had 
only just seated herself in the boat, when a woman 
came running down to it and asked her for " thread 


and needles ". Of course, she could have got these 
days before, but it never struck her to mention it until 
then. She had scarcely gone away before a man came 
to me for " medicine ". I told him he could not get it now, 
and, " Anyway," I said, "you are not sick ". " Ahy but I 
may be be/ore you come back again" he said. The general 
laugh that followed this brightened us all up. 

We went off in the ship's boat, but had not gone 
far before we saw the Yaros, ' the Morning Star,' being 
pushed off from the shore, and the men scrambling 
into her. When we reached the vessel, we went right 
downstairs, and I went into my cabin, almost dreading 
to meet the men again. Soon the door was pushed 
open, and in a moment I was in Yomot's burly arms. 
Dear Yomot, what a friend he had been ! Lilea, Usuo's 
half-brother, a bright, affectionate young fellow, was 
right behind him, and several more, eager to say good- 
bye once more. My wife and I felt leaving them very 
much, and were touched by their loving regard for us. 
It was almost a relief when the Day spring had to weigh 
anchor, and the men got down again into the boat. 
" Why ! I feel like crying myself," said the captain. 



I HAVE long been wishing to write short sketches of 
some of our Erromangans who have been specially 
prominent in forwarding the work of Christ on their 
own island. One of the reasons that have hitherto 
prevented me from doing so was my want of confidence 
in their stability and strength of character — a kind of 
underlying fear lest, after I had told how able and 
helpful these men and women had been in the past, they 
should at last become unsatisfactory and fall away from 
their former exemplary life, proving, perhaps a hindrance 
instead of a help to our cause. I am sure that all 
missionaries labouring among native races must feel 
this uncertainty about even the very best of their 

But, notwithstanding much that is disappointing in 
many of our Christian natives, I do think we should not 
fail to tell of their many good qualities and of the de- 
voted lives that some of these men and women have 
lived for Christ. To withhold this would be unfair 
both to the natives themselves and to the Churches 
which support our Missions. For these reasons, and the 
loss to Erromanga by the recent death of Yomot, in 
September, 1899, I feel that I should say something 
about this remarkable man — a character, I think, almost 
unique in the New Hebrides. 

Yomot must have been born about the year 1835, 


and would therefore be about sixty-four years of age 
at the time of his death. He was born at a village 
called Unova on the north-east of Erromanga, and 
about three miles from Potnuma, where Mr. James 
Gordon laboured for the five years immediately pre- 
ceding his martyrdom. Yomot as a boy and young 
man seems to have been superior in strength and pluck 
to the youths of his own age on the island. In mere 
boyhood, he became not only a very strong and rapid 
swimmer but an expert in throwing the spear and in 
archery. He was fond of fishing and shooting, which 
fondness increased with his years, so that when I first 
knew him on Aneityum, in 1867, these sports had 
become almost a passion with him. As new and more 
modern guns were introduced, Yomot made every effort 
to possess one, and to the last I think he loved a first- 
rate rifle next to a copy of the complete Bible in Aneit- 
yumese and portions of the Old and New Testament in 
Erromangan. His house was a kind of " Tower of Lon- 
don," for he kept all his firearms, from an old lumbering 
blunderbuss up to the modern expensive rifle, perfectly 
clean and in order. No one ever saw Yomot, however 
tired he might be, put aside his gun after the hunt till 
he had removed the bullet or cartridge and thoroughly 
cleaned his gun. When I first knew him and right 
on up to the time of his death, he was far and away the 
very best shot on Erromanga, and in the seventies and 
eighties, when his sight was quick, he would bring down 
brace for brace of pigeons with the best shot in any 
of H.M.'s ships that visited the island. One day only a 
few years ago, he shot a black duck for me with his rifle. 
Thinking that it was only a happy chance shot, I chal- 
lenged him to put another bullet in his rifle and try 
again. He did so, took deliberate aim, and duck No. 
2 dropped in the water. When he picked it up, we 


found that the bullet had cut through the neck, leaving 
just the skin of the upper side attached to the head! 

But chasing the wild boar with his dogs in the forests 
of his own island was Yomot's favourite sport, and just 
because it was more risky and exciting. He would be 
slowly walking in front of or behind me, telling me some- 
thing of the past — for he always talked on the road, 
up hill and down dale — when suddenly the dogs would 
fly through the bush and begin barking. Without a 
word, Yomot would throw down his " swag," ^ and bound 
away into the bush to follow up the scent of the dogs. 
Presently the barking would increase, accompanied by 
wild snorting from the boar, which, by this time, had 
turned and faced the dogs. Every now and then the 
boar would charge at them, and woe to the poor dog 
that came in his way. But, while literally tearing that 
unfortunate dog, another dog would seize him by the 
hind-quarter or ear, and then for a few minutes the 
discordant yelping of the dogs and squalling of their 
victim would be simply deafening. Yomot, wild with 
excitement, would by this time be within shot, and, hav- 
ing called off his dogs, would speedily despatch the 
animal, providing himself and his party with fresh pork 
for the next two days. Often this has happened in our 
journeys from village to village, and now that Yomot 
is gone I always think of him in connection with these 
wildboar hunts. And, although such a hunt still often 
happens, it is of Yomot's share in them in the past that 
I speak. 

They cannot wait till I dress the meat ; so the men 
divide it into quarters, run a pointed stick through each 
piece, and, with all the guns and bundles they are carry- 
ing already, they tramp along with these huge junks cf 
fresh pork. And so, all tired and hungry, we reach a 
village just at dusk. Should there be a teacher in 


charge, he has everything ready for our comfort, and, 
if he has been told of our purposed visit in time, there is 
always a small hut built specially for my use. This will 
olten have two rooms — one for a dining-room, the other 
lor sleeping — and both will be beautifully neat, and as 
comfortable as the teacher has been able to make them. 
Upon a reed or bamboo table are a dozen or more 
drmkmg cocoanuts, and, if in season, oranges and pine- 
apples, while in a corner of the hut are the long, newly 
cut bamboo bottles filled with cold, fresh water from 
one of the mountam sprmgs. Soon several native 
puddmgs, of all kinds and sizes, are brought in, all piping 
hot and excellent to taste. 

Yomot and all his crowd have fared as well in the 
big siman-io or feasting house of the village. But no 
sooner have they finished their huge meal than they 
begin to prepare for the oven the flesh of the hog 
that has been shot that day. Amid laughing, shouting 
and giving of orders (which every one gives and no one 
obeys), the food is at last ready for cooking, and will 
be left to steam slowly in the ground-pit until morning. 
But, during all these big preparations, tit-bits of the 
pork, and also yams and taro^ are roasted and eaten, 
and after that follows the wholesale chewing, the half- 
eating, half-drinking, of dozens of sticks of sugar-cane. 
After a little time there is perfect quiet, and then there 
comes floating across the village square the plaintive 
strains of some familiar old psalm-tune. The hymn 
sung, evening prayer is offered up by Yomot, or, perhaps, 
by some other teacher, and presently all are fast asleep. 
And can't they sleep! To try to wake them is almost 
to try to wake the dead! 

Yomot provided well for himself and his good wife 
and for any of their young nieces or nephews who might 
be living with them from time to time, and no one 


ever saw Yomot idling. Though far from being a 
greedy man, he hked good substantial food, well made 
and well cooked. And what savoury dishes he could 
prepare ! His wife, Navusia, was a true helpmeet to 
him, and set a noble example to the younger women. 
She was our boy Gordon's nurse, and a great deal with 
us all, but was too old to pick up much knowledge of 
housework or cooking, though she made a wonderful 
attempt now and again. When we went to Port Nari- 
ven, the house was always spotlessly clean ; Navusia saw 
to that, and the dear, old body was there smiling her 
welcome, and fussing round to get us anything we 
wanted. Yomot would make us fan, ' very good,' soup, 
and a number of dainties, and, of course, the table was 
always set, for Navusia put every dish m the house on 
it. She had a marvellous way of arranging things, and 
was always charmed with it and her own forethought 
She simply could not do enough for us Ask Navusia 
for mtything, and away she would trot and have it 
brought at once. Her sweet simplicity and trueness 
made every one love her. She lived a sincere life for 
Christ, and did her best to bring others to know Him. 
She died shortly before her husband at a ripe old age, 
and her memory will always be very dear to us. 

But it was as a strong and earnest Christian man, an 
able and fearless helper of the Erromangan Mission, 
that Yomot distinguished himself above all his country- 
men, though not previous to our settlement in 1872, 
for it was and his brotlier-in-law, Netai, who were 
Mr. James Gordon's grand helpers. It was from the 
time that he joined the Church, in 1873, until about 
twenty years later, when his health began to fail very 
much, that Yomot — as a Christian man of strong 
common-sense, well read in his Bible, well grounded in 
the faith, fearless in advocating every good cause, and 


as fearless in exposing and denouncing everything that 
was evil — stood head and shoulders above his fellow- 

As a solid, instructive preacher of the Gospel he could 
hold his own with many in civilised lands. He brought 
" beaten oil " to the sanctuary, carefully preparing all 
his addresses. He did not interest young people and 
children so well as many of the other teachers, whose 
speeches were simpler and more pictorial. But those 
who were older, and especially those who took the 
trouble to follow him, profited greatly by Yomot's 
teaching. For my own part I never failed to be present 
if Yomot was to speak. His words were so clear and 
accurate and so forcible that one was sure to feel 
strengthened by them. He made no wild, rambling 
talks, never mixed up things in the absurd manner some 
natives do, and above all he kept clear of those ruts 
that so many of our New Hebridean teachers get into 
and never seem to get away from. They have the 
same introduction, the same bit of Church history, the 
same confession of their own sins and shortcomings, 
and, of course, the same sermon always, no matter what 
the text may be. 

Yomot's knowledge of Aneityumese gave him a great 
advantage over the other Erromagans ; for, up to the 
present time the whole Bible has not been translated 
into any language of the New Hebrides except that of 
Aneityum Indeed Yomot was a linguist in the purely 
island dialects, for he knew the enyau as well as the 
sorug of Erromanga, those of Aneityum and Nguna, 
and a little of the Tannese as spoken at Port Resolution. 
He also understood and spoke fairly well colloquial 
English. He read with great ease any books printed in 
Erromangan, Aneityumese or Ngunese, and could read 
slowly the Old and New Testaments in English. 


But it was not so much by means of his knowledge 
of languages or his power as a clear and forcible 
preacher as by his own good influence and sterling 
Christian character that Yomot did such yeoman service 
in the first ten or fifteen years of our labours on Erro- 
manga. He was a born leader and ruler. He could not 
help it if he would, and he would not if he could. Dr. 
Gunn, of Futuna, spoke of him once as " an iron man ". 
He had lived and worked with white men, good and bad, 
knew them thoroughly, and they all respected him for 
his straightforward, manly integrity and independence 
They knew he could not be twisted about their fingers, 
and thought all the more of him on that account. He 
was modest without being cringing, and was never 
ashamed of his faith. 

I have spoken of Yomot as an athlete from his youth 
up until he was nearly sixty years of age. When I first 
saw him, I was struck with his splendid physique, every 
muscle seemed so firm and well-developed, and moved 
with every movement of his body. With his rifle over 
his shoulder, his strong, decided step of vigorous man- 
hood, his beautiful dark eyes, now flashing as he de- 
scribed some deed of daring or denounced some cowardly 
act, now softening as he spoke of the sufferings and 
persecution of the early converts and missionaries of 
Erromanga, one could not help admiring him. A daring, 
cool leader in any contest, a champion of the truth, an 
able friend of the weak and oppressed, whether white or 
black, and the warm friend of all missionaries, Yomot 
was superior to any Erromangan I have ever known. 
That which will ever keep our love warm for Yomot is 
the memory of the way he stood by us in the "ten years' 
conflict'' through which we passed on this island, be- 
ginning with our settlement in 1872. So solicitous was 
he for our safety that he never left the Mission premises 


even to go as far as his plantation, unless he knew that 
some other strong man would stay near us. 

And it was always Netai and Yomot and other " east 
side " men who stood by us in those days, and not the 
chief and people of Dillon's Bay, among whom we were 
living. These were always good friends, but had not 
the staunch love and faithfulness of the eastern people. 
Had Naling, the chief of Dillon's Bay, who was also a 
church member, been a man of any force of character, 
his influence among his people would have prevented 
many a trouble and heart-sore. But, although a bright, 
pleasant and intelligent young man, he was easily led, 
and the old, dark-hearted fellows around him could often 
turn him about whichever way they wanted He was 
always gentle and respectful when I spoke to him, and 
would leave me with the full intention of doing well ; 
but his old advisers and would-be friends were too much 
for him, and so he often disappointed us by following 
their bad suggestions. Was Yomot ever influenced by 
these old rascals.^ Never! They tried him in vain ; he 
had " backbone," and was very different from poor 
Naling. Yomot, however, was not free from faults, and 
as he grew older he did not improve. Always accus- 
tomed to lead and to have the first place among the 
elders and teachers, he did not take kindly to the changes 
that time was making in himself and them. Many of 
the younger men were by this time better teachers than 
he was, and, being young and strong, could do more 
work. Whether he imagined he was being " shelved ' 
or not, I cannot say, but he did not, at any rate, grow 
old gracefully ; and often his strange, abrupt manner 
made a heavy demand upon our patience. But in spite 
of that, my wife and 1 could never forget dear, old 
Yomot for what he had been to ourselves and our little 
children during our dark days on Erromanga. With all 


his faults he was, perhaps, our truest friend on the island, 
and often showed his love in many ways. 

About ten years ago Yomot's splendid teeth began to 
decay, and I believe his failing health had much to do 
with this. He suffered so much, that, as we were going 
to Sydney, in 1895, we decided to take him with us 
and get him a complete set of artificial teeth. This was 
done, and the dentist, being a personal friend and a 
good friend of the Mission, very generously made a 
considerable reduction from the usual charge. Yomot's 
new teeth improved his appearance very much, his health 
became better, and he returned home like a new man. 
We hoped that many years of usefulness were yet before 
him. Soon after his return, we relieved him of the 
charge of the school at Port Nariven, where he had been 
for many years, and only asked him to help in the 
Sabbath services and the weekly prayer-meeting. His 
work would be to visit the teachers and people of 
the different villages on the east and north-east coast 
as often as he could, and to encourage and help them 
with his advice in their work. Both Yomot and his wife 
were pleased with this plan ; for they knew that, in sug- 
gesting it, we were studying their comfort in their failing 
years. I remember what a delightful talk I had with 
them both at their own house the morning I first spoke 
of it to them, and how pleased Mrs. Robertson was when 
I told her of their willingness. We had been a little 
anxious about it, knowing how Yomot loved to rule, 
and feared that he might imagine he was being put 
aside now that he was growing old. But Yomot was a 
good and sensible man, and at once fell in with the 
new plan. He was no ordinary man, and we treated 
him accordingly. Indeed, I have often been asked if 
Yomot was really an Erromangan. Many thought he 
must be a native of the Eastern islands, for he seemed 


so much superior to the other Erromangans. Yomot 
under the new arrangement did the best of work, and, 
whenever he was able, visited regularly the surrounding 
districts. But his health was failing very much, and in 
September, 1899, he caught a severe cold which turned 
to influenza. He had no strength to rally from it, and 
on the twentieth of that month, after forty-tivo years' 
devoted service in this Mission, Yomot passed away from 
this world and entered the Eternal City. He was a 
" shock of wheat fully ripe," and, we doubt not, received 
from the Saviour, whom he had loved and served 
throughout his long life, the welcome, " Well done, good 
and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord ". 

Nosoreki, who succeeded Yomot at Port Nariven, had 
gone as a young man to Fiji,^ where he had been con- 
verted by a native pastor of the Wesleyan Mission. 
As soon as he returned to Erromanga, he built a school- 
house in his own village, and persuaded Norowo, the 
high chief of Numpu-norowo, to receive a teacher. 
Through Nosoreki's influence, we were at last able to 
settle one there, and had the delight of seeing the old 
chief become a true Christian. This was shortly before 
we left for Canada. When I visited him then in his 
large siiitan-lo, I saw that there was to be quite a cere- 
mony. In the presence of two hundred of his people, 
the old chief laid down on the ground before me, one 
by one, all his idols or sacred stones, including the one 
he treasured most — a beautiful navilah called Nanepin- 
taru, which is a woman's name. One of these stones 
had a very small numpelat or ' skirt ' tied to it ; another, 
again, had a charm in the shape of a pierced shell. The 
whole affair was such a surprise to me, a delightful one, 
and the dear, old man amused us by his perfect dehght 
in his own doings. And not only that, but he did not 


forget to try to lead his people and friends to his new 
Friend, and every now and again, while walking up and 
down between his relics, telling me the names and his- 
tories of one after another of them, he would stop, 
and, turning to those around us, plead with them to 
" take the word " ^ which was then doing so much for 
many on Erromanga. Norowo remained true to his 
testimony, and soon after this gave further proof of his 
change of heart by giving up all his wives but one. 
Before long, we had Niau, Nosoreki, and Naling settled 
in the large district of Numpu-norowo. 

For years Nosoreki had been betrothed to Wampu. 
the daughter of a Cook's Bay chief. When he returned 
from Fiji, Wampu was still quite young and was being 
trained by Mrs. Robertson at Dillon's Bay. For some 
reason or other, she seemed to have a great dislike to 
poor Nosoreki, and, when the marriage was suggested, 
turned up her nose very decidedly. She was a dear 
girl and a good worker, and, as she had been with my 
wife from the time she was a child, we had grown very 
fond of her. But we did not sympathise with her at 
all in this dislike ; for Nosoreki was such a fine young 
fellow, and we knew that he would make her a good 
husband. It would have been very different if he had 
been an old man, but their ages were very suitable. 
However, " Miss " Wampu took her time, and then all 
of a sudden veered round and found that she was very 
fond of Nosoreki. I married them before she had time 
to change her mind again, and she made Nosoreki simply 
an excellent wife. They were an exceptional couple in 
every way; both well educated and bright, and they 
proved good teachers. Like Noye and his wife, and 
Ukina and his wife, who are now helping the Rev. F. 
G. Bowie on Santo, Nosoreki and Wampu trained their 
people well. Every year they brought us young men 


and women to attend the Candidates' Class, and these 
had already been well taught by themselves. Wampu 
had her own Bible Class, and it was a pleasure to have 
her pupils passed on to us. The girls that she taught 
always seemed bright and capable, and several of them 
have from time to time helped Mrs. Robertson in the 
house at Dillon's Bay. 

Nosoreki was an eloquent speaker, and had no diffi- 
culty in making any one listen to him. He had not, 
perhaps, the solid matter of Yomot's preaching, but what 
he did say (and it was always good) was said with such 
marvellous power and such a winning manner that he 
just rivetted one's attention. It was always a treat to 
listen to him, but I had to be very careful not to call 
upon him too often, for fear of creating jealousy among 
his fellow-teachers. 

Soon after Nosoreki and Wampu were settled at Port 
Nariven, they took heavy influenza colds, and, as neither 
of them had ever been strong, it proved too much for 
them. I was with them at the time, and it was a sore 
grief when I realised that they were both passing away. 
Dear Wampu " fell asleep " first, and it was touching 
to see the dying husband's love as he tried vainly to 
crawl over on his hands and knees to where she lay. 
I made the men hft the body to his side. He touched it 
very tenderly, and then, turning to me, said, " I have no 
strength to ' cry ' ; * tell them all to ' cry ' for my wife, 
for she has gone from us ". But, before she was taken 
away from him again, the poor man burst into tears. 
Before that day had closed he, too, had gone to that 
land where God shall wipe away all tears. 



The inhabitants of most of the islands in the New 
Hebrides group are said to belong to the Papuan race. 
The natives of Erromanga are certainly very unlike 
the fine-looking people of Efate, who seem to be a 
mixture of Polynesian and Papuan blood ; but the 
appearance of the native Erromangans, I think, scarcely 
justifies the assertion that they are the poorest speci- 
mens and the lowest race in the New Hebrides. They 
are darker in colour than the Tannese, but still are far 
from black ; a rich brown is the usual complexion. Here 
and there we find a really black native, but this is excep- 
tional. There are also the fair freaks called the 
nafolian. Albinoes are not often seen ; they are not 
specially noticed, and are called the ovun-nesebo, 'the 
white-skinned '. 

The Erromangans are short in stature, the usual 
height being about five ft. four in. ; but their bodies are 
well-developed and muscular. Though evidently one 
people, we find, towards the south of the island, very 
much taller and finer-lookmg men and women than 
those to the north, who are small and weak, and it is 
noticeable that the eastern tribes are, in every way — 
height, physique, strength — very much superior to the 
western. The finest people on the island are the men 
and women of Numpo-norowo, on the south-east. After 
our long years here we can tell at a glance to what 


district a man belongs. Of course, in some measure, 
their names help us, for these are peculiar to their own 
lands. On my first visit to Erromanga, I was struck 
with what seemed to me the defiant, sullen appearance 
of the natives. This, I think, is due to the deep-set 
eyes and projecting forehead. The nose is not large, 
but, having no bridge, except in rare cases, it seems 
very big ; the mouth is large, but not always ill-shaped. 
The head itself is well-developed. The shoulders are 
sloping ; the only square-shouldered man on the island 
is Owang, and he is not a pure Erromangan. However 
ugly the other features may be, the eyes are always 
beautiful, large, very dark and expressive ; they are 
really lovely, and seem to be always a native's redeeming 
feature. Both neck and wrists are small. The chest 
and loins are well-developed. Natives seem to have 
plenty of lung power ; climbing a steep hill is mere 
play to them, but in ordinary hard work they get tired 
very easily. That seems to be just the contrast between 
our work and theirs. A man will think nothing of 
carrying an enormous pole, or several of them, for build- 
ing his house, but will draw back in dismay at a cask 
or heavy box. As children, their hmbs are miserably 
formed ; they have long, spindly arms and legs, badly 
shaped ankles,, about as thick as the calf of the leg, and 
such huge, distended " corporations," that the body seems 
almost deformed. From the age of seventeen years or 
so the figure begins to improve, and, in a few years, 
the lank scarecrow of a boy, with limbs hke pipe-stems, 
has grown into a strong, well-built and muscular man. 
An Erromangan's head is not always big ; that is gener- 
ally in proportion to the rest of the body. We have 
often noticed that some of the women have particularly 
small, neat feet ; and, though they do a great deal of 
hard plantation work, their hands, as a rule, are small, 


firm and shapely. A very fat person is a most unusual 

The less said about the costume of the Erromangan 
heathen man the better. They could not very well 
wear less or look more hideous in paint and dirt. The 
hair is always very bushy, but is never plaited, and is 
thus unlike that of the Tannese. One custom is to 
shave closely one side of the head, while the other is 
allowed to grow in luxurious tufts. In these is stuck a 
bamboo comb, about six or seven inches in length and 
rudely carved. In heathenism, anklets made of shells 
were worn and a chain of small shells was often placed 
just below the knee. Bracelets were made of the 
plaited fandanus leaf, and nearly every person — men 
and women alike — wore a necklace made of plaited 
worenevau or ' pandanus ' ; to that was hung a small 
shell, which was kept on from babyhood, and was simply 
a charm to keep away disease or danger. The men often 
wore armlets made of carved and richly polished cocoa- 
nut shell. The ears of both men and women are pierced, 
but the ear ornaments are very poor, being merely 
pieces of shaped wood and tortoise-shell. When first 
pierced, a small piece of hibiscus wood is inserted to 
keep the aperture open ; this is gradually enlarged till 
often the lobe of the ear hangs away down towards the 
shoulder, and the hole then becomes a convenient 
receptacle for personal property of the smaller sort. 
Pipes are often carried in these, and boxes of matches 
also fit in nicely. As for loose matches, the man has a 
fine plantation for these a little higher up ; for they 
find plenty of safe hiding-places in his bushy crop of 

The women in heathenism were well clothed with 
the long, graceful skirts, and the native cloth, nemas- 
itse, which was thrown across their shoulders. The 


skirts are made from a number of different plants — the 
pandanus, the banana and the very young, white and 
phable cocoanut leaves; also from the inner silky bark 
of the worenevau, from a species of hibiscus, from the 
yalehoi, and the stem of the tampoli or native cabbage. 
A woman will take great pains in making her dresses. 
In fashioning a pandanus leaf skirt, she first gathers the 
green leaves, choosing them the length she requires. 
These are bound together in sheaves, and it is quite 
a common thing to see her, as she returns from her 
plantation work, bearing the material for her next new 
dress on the top of her head, waving like plumes. The 
next process can take place while she and her friends 
are sitting gossiping together, and with her sleeping 
baby tied on her back, and the evening meal cooking m 
the ground, our friend takes out her fancy work. 

The prickly edges are first stripped off the leaves 
by a small piece of bamboo, the rough centre vein 
being removed by her teeth. Next comes the pattern- 
ing, and this is done in either of two ways — by the 
rough stem of the tree-fern or by her own sharp, white 
teeth. She may make only one dress at a time ; more 
often she prepares several, and will use up the shorter 
leaves as skirts for the children, when they are too 
young to do their own " sewing ". But they learn this 
art when they are very small, and often just baby 
fingers will be seen twisting and weaving a tiny skirt for 
their owner's use. When the patterning is done to her 
liking, the edges are fringed by the bamboo knife, 
the butt end of the leaf also being divided into short 
narrow strips. These are to be ready for plaiting on to 
the girdle later on. 

The lady has now completed the first process, and at 
dusk, after putting the baby to bed and leaving her 
man in charge of it, she ties the green leaves into 


bundles, and strolls seawards ; for the material must 
now be soaked to make it durable. She places the 
bundles in shallow water near the shore, covering them 
with a large stone ; fresh water seems to be as good 
as salt for the purpose, and the bundles of leaves are 
often put in the river. After a few days she uncovers 
them, and, taking them out of the water, spreads them 
on the shore or river bank to bleach. They are soon 
perfectly white and pliable, and are now ready for the 
third process. In her odd moments she has been pre- 
paring some soft worenevau for use as twine, and this 
evening, with her friends again gathered round, some 
of them, perhaps, engaged in the same work, she 
weaves the leaves of her skirt to the twine. Sitting 
on the ground, with her feet spread straight before her, 
she ties the worenevau to her big toe, and proceeds to 
twist it into a fine cord. When it is a few inches long, 
one leaf of the pandanus is taken, and the short strips, 
which have already been cut in the butt end, are laid 
over the cord, and woven carefully in with more of the 
worenevau. When the leaves have all been fastened in 
this manner, the lady finishes off with enough twine 
to tie the ends, and then skilfully detaches the cord from 
that useful big toe. The dress is now ready for use, 
unless she decides to colour it. A dye of a rich red 
shade is taken from the root of a tree, and called nohorat. 
The sap is heated, mixed with ashes, and then strained. 
Some of the dresses are simply buried in mud, which 
gives them a peculiar grey tint. 

These skirts look very pretty when finished, and being 
very light are worn in great numbers at once. In 
heathenism as many as twenty or thirty are donned. 
A child wears them quite short,, but, as soon as she is 
engaged, however small she may be, the skirts are 
lengthened to the ankles, and on marriage the very 


longest ones are worn. Some of those worn by the 
married women in heathenism are very long. The front 
leaves are cut so that they just touch the ground, while 
the others are left the full length and sweep out in a long 
train behind. These skirts are often from eight feet to 
nine feet in length. An Erromangan woman in full 
heathen costume is a picturesque sight — the long, trail- 
ing skirts helpmg to make her look tall and graceful, 
and from their custom of carrying all burdens, even 
very heavy ones, on their heads, our women have excep- 
tionally straight figures and well-poised heads. The 
native cloth, the tapa, is brought under one arm and 
tied in a loose knot on the other shoulder. No orna- 
ment is worn in the hair, which is kept short, and 
perhaps only a string of beads round the neck and an 
armlet or two made of cocoanut shell. In heathenism 
both men and women were painted. 

All women were tatooed ; sometimes on the body 
and arms, and always on the face, generally on each 
cheek, and often on the chin. Now and again we see 
a man who has been tatooed, but this is not common. 
The marking was done when the girls were betrothed, 
and by other women, generally old ones. A sharp piece 
of bamboo was used, and the tatooing done in patterns 
of leaves with stems down the length of the face and 
single leaves if continued on the chin. The operation 
must have been very painful, but seems to have been 
cheerfully undergone, and we very rarely hear of girls 
who were unwilling to be beautified in this manner. A 
piece of the nangai, ' nut ' tree was taken and heated 
over the embers till the sap began to ooze out, and this 
was allowed to drip into a bamboo receptacle. When 
enough had been gathered, a little of it mixed with some 
water was put into a cocoanut shell, and this mixture 
smeared over the face. That was allowed to stay on 


from two to four weeks, and then all was washed off, 
leaving now only the well-defined markings. The 
tatooing, when well done, is not at all unsightly ; some 
of the leaves are finely formed, and their dark, blackened 
veins show out well against the dull brown of the 
woman's cheek. But it is a barbaric feature of heathen- 
ism, and as such we have discountenanced it very 
strongly. We approve of the natives keeping up their 
old customs when these are innocent and good ones ; 
but as so many of them are connected with their super- 
stitious and often cruel rites this is not often possible. 

The native cloth, which is called tapa on Samoa and 
on Erromanga nemas-iise (nemas, ' cloth/ itse^ ' beaten '), 
is made from the inner bark of the banyan and one or 
two other large trees, and is always the work of the 
women. The bark is taken off in broad strips, and done 
up in bundles. Then, on a round, smooth log about a 
foot in diameter and eight or ten feet in length, one 
of these strips is laid. Generally two women work to- 
gether at it, one on each side of the log. The ' beater ' 
inekd) is made of nokesam, a very hard wood, which 
takes a high polish. With the exception of the handle, 
which is plain, it is often beautifully carved in patterns 
of leaves. Each woman has on the ground beside her 
a small canoe-shaped dish of fresh water and a whisk 
made of reeds. Every now and again the bark is 
sprayed with water, and, after it is beaten for a long 
time, another strip is added, overlapping the edge of the 
first one. The bark is so glutinous that in the constant 
beating the pieces join very quickly. As the women 
work, they draw the fabric from side to side of the log ; 
strip after strip is added, principally lengthwise (for the 
cloth is always narrow and long), till it is one solid piece. 
The colour is now a dull white, and the material very 
like parchment in appearance. It is then hung over a 


bamboo or over some creepers tied between trees, and, 
while still damp, patterns are drawn on it with char- 
coal. The usual designs are the crescent moon (which 
seems to be used as a sign of and in connection with 
their sacred stones ^ and heathen festivals), birds, fishes, 
lizards, flying-foxes,^ and usually the never-failing palm 
leaf and other leaves. Sometimes there is an attempt 
at drawing human beings, and we were very much 
amused one day lately when a piece of nemas-itsd was 
brought to us with weird illustrations of men on horse- 
back.2 The artist was evidently a lady who moved with 
the times. One side only of the cloth is marked. It is 
left hanging till thoroughly dry, and then coloured with 
nohorat. Sometimes, though rarely, it is left uncoloured. 
The usual size of the pieces is about three feet in width 
and seven feet in length. On the island of Efate it 
is made very much longer, and is elegantly finished with 
fringes of feathers. Theirs is also finer than the 
Erromangan tapa. I have never seen it, and, as far as 
I know, it is not made on any island south of that. 

In heathenism the nemas-itse was used as barter, and, 
as I have already said, as part of the dress of the women. 
And it was in a strip of this that a woman always carried 
her baby. The Erromangan children are carried on 
their mothers' backs, but now strong calico is used for 
this /purpose instead of nemas-itse. The numberless 
grass skirts of the woman make an enormous bunch 
at the back, which is a fine, comfortable seat for the 
child! The mother twists the cloth securely round 
it, brings one end under her left shoulder, the other 
over her right, and giving them a twist or two round 
each other, slips one end under the knot, and is ready 
to carry her burden any distance. The child is most 
comfortable, will sleep soundly, and it seems to be the 
easiest way for the mother to carry it. When the baby 


is very young it is strapped in front, the woman's arm 
helping to support the tiny body. 

I have spoken of the straight figures of the Erro- 
mangan women. It is marvellous to see the loads that 
they carry. It is quite a common thing to meet a 
woman with a child on her back, and a heavy load of 
yams tied together on her head, above that a bundle 
of sticks for her fire, and over her shoulder a 
large bamboo filled with water. She cannot but keep 
straight, and she has been inured to this from childhood. 
With a load hke this, a woman can walk a long distance, 
and often has to climb hills, and yet will keep as erect 
and look almost as fresh at the end of her journey as 
when she started. 

The weapons of the people are bows and arrows, 
clubs^ battle-axes and spears. The ' bow ' (nefane) is 
made from the more, a species of acacia — a dark, heavy 
wood, in appearance something like walnut. The wood 
must be cut from an inland tree (for that will be tall 
and straight), perhaps five or six miles from the sea- 
coast. A section, about five feet long, is cut from the 
trunk and split into several pieces. One of these is 
taken, and is roughly shaped by axes to about twice 
the size wanted. All the rest of the work is done with 
a pig's tusk, for no sharp instrument is used for fear 
of cutting the grain. The bow is carefully shaped to 
about five feet in length and, perhaps, an inch at its 
broadest part, the middle, and from this it gradually 
tapers off to about the thickness of a lead pencil at each 
end. The nelas or ' string ' is made of the inner bark of 
the hibiscus, and sometimes from the nendemai, which 
is a small shrub. The bow is bent on the knee, and kept 
tied for a while till it gets its shape. But after this, 
when not in use, the string is always left loose, being 
fastened only at one end. When needed it is tied in 


a twinkling, and it is wound in a very neat design round 
the narrowed part of the bow. 

The ' arrow-shaft ' (nagesau) is made from the stem 
of the tall reed-grass, a specially straight one being 
picked. This, of course, has its natural polish. The 
lower part of the stem of the tree-fern gives the head 
of the arrow. That wood is very hard, almost hke 
iron in durability. This may be over a foot in length. 
The end of the head is barbed and ornamented with 
notches, and finished with a very sharp point. The 
butt end is also pointed, shoved firmly into the centre 
or pithy part of the reed, and bound with one strand 
of cocoanut fibre, which looks exactly like copper wire. 
The lower end of the reed is also sewed with cocoanut 
fibre to make it stronger. The shaft is not feathered, 
and the points of the arrows are never poisoned, as in 
the northern islands. There are usually six arrows to 
one bow ; that makes the set. They are polished with 
cocoanut oil^ and in time become of a dark brown or 
black colour and very glossy. 

There are three kinds of * clubs ' (nirom), the " telug- 
homti" the ^^ novwan" and the "netnivri". The butt 
end of every club is surmounted by a flat, round knob ; 
this is always carved in a pattern of four leaves; there 
is never any change. 

The telughomti or ' star-club ' is now very rare. It 
was only made on the south or south-east side of the 
island, and particularly at Numpu-norowo. The head 
is cut in the shape of a star of eight points, each perfectly 
finished. An old telughomti (and some that I have seen 
must be very old, having passed down from one genera- 
tion to another) is as black as ebony and highly polished, 
and is very much valued by the natives. It was not so 
much in use for fighting as for a money medium, for 
they were given as special marks of favour at the great 


feasts, and women were bought with them. As far as 
I know, the only other star-clubs in this group are those 
of Tanna, which are much larger, but inferior to the 
telugJiontti of this island. During a trip in the Day- 
spring at Epi, Captain Braithwaite told me that he 
had seen a splendid star-club, much finer than any we 
had on Erromanga. I recognised the club and the 
owner as soon as I saw them; the club was an Erro- 
mangan one which I had given him in exchange for an 
Epi one some time before. 

The novwan (' seed ') is an oval-shaped, heavy club, 
with a long bead or vein running down its whole length. 
It is also becoming rare. 

The netnivri is the most common of the three. The 
head is finished in the same way as the handle, with 
the flat, disc-like top carved with four leaves. Just 
below this the club tapers off to a very small size. 
About ten inches down there are two more of these 
" discs " close together, and between these and the head 
" disc " the club has gradually been widened. Thus it 
may be about five or six inches in circumference just 
in the centre, but barely two or three inches where it 
meets the discs. The rest of the club is plain and 
small in size. These weapons, like the bows, are made 
principally with pigs' tusks. When finished, they are 
hung up to the ridge-poles of the siman-lo, far from the 
fire but in the way of the smoke. Every now and again 
they are taken down and rubbed with cocoanut oil, 
and in time this, with the constant smoke, gives the 
clubs a fine black appearance and rich polish. I have 
tried to get our natives to keep on making clubs, and I 
tell them they should never think of giving up the art. 
They have had every encouragement ; for a good club 
will always fetch a ready sale. They say they can't 
make them as well as the old men — their fathers and 


grandfathers — made them, and no doubt this, in a sense, 
is true. For the old men of the past generation, having 
no implements but the rude axes and pigs' tusks, seem 
to have taken infinite pains and turned out work that is 
a marvel of neatness and perfection in form. 

For about sixty years our people have had English 
tomahawks. They insert the blade in a handle of highly 
polished more, having its end carved in the never-failing 
leaf pattern. In appearance the whole handle is very 
like a small club. They have a custom of winding 
bright-coloured strips of calico round the handle, and 
the " spear-thrower " — a cord made of pandanus leaf — 
was at one time always fastened to it. Their own early 
axes were of stone. Stones were picked as near the 
desired shape and size as possible, and then ground 
on other stones till quite the right size, and sharpened 
at one end. The axe was somewhat oval in shape, and 
from about four to six inches in width at the largest 
end, and tapering to about one and a half inches at the 
other. The wooden handle, about two and a half feet 
in length, had a bowl at the end, where it was tied to 
keep it from slipping out of the hand. The other end 
was very large, and had a hole dug out with pigs' tusks 
and sharp shells where the axe was inserted. It was 
then very firmly secured by strong twine made of cocoa- 
nut fibre, and sometimes cemented with the glutinous 
part of the ulaveri, the ' ground orchid '. 

The sau or ' spear ' of Erromanga is a very inferior 
article. It is merely a rudely shaped, strong rod, very 
like a fishing-rod, and is used both for fishing and for 
fighting. No pains are taken in the making of it, and 
it is rarely if ever carved. The end is sharply pointed 
and finished with large barbs and notches. A spear 
is from ten to twelve feet in length. After it is made 
it is generally weighted with a heavy stone, and hung 


for some time to a large tree in order to make it perfectly 

Like the spear, the canoe of Erromanga is of very 
rough manufacture. It is formed from the trunk of the 
nejnar or bread-fruit tree, and also from the neblibli. 
In early times, the log was first burnt away to a length 
and then hollowed into shape by the same means and 
by stone axes. The outrigger is made simply, and with 
no ornamentation. All the lashings are of the strong 
twine made of the cocoanut fibre. The canoes in use 
in the northern islands of the group are very much 
bigger and superior in every way to those made on 
Erromanga and one or two others of the southern 
islands. Strange to say, those again of Aniwa and 
Futuna ^ are fairly large and beautifully built ; the Erro- 
mangan canoes seem very poor by contrast. 

Huts, in former times, were built without posts or 
walls, as now, and were in shape not unlike a huge 
boat, keel up or " turned turtle ". The ground was first 
raised from twelve to eighteen inches, then slender poles, 
about three feet apart, were sunk twelve inches in the 
ground. These were bent over and tied with very 
tough creepers to the ridge-pole. Across these, lighter 
poles were placed, and on this framework was a cover- 
ing of reeds (the stems of the tall reed-grass) beauti- 
fully woven together. Over all this was placed the 
thatch of sugar-cane leaf, or reeds with their grassy 
tops, this being securely tied through reed-work under- 
neath. This covering was very strong and yet cool. 
When it was to be used as a sleeping house, both ends 
were thatched, with the exception of a small entrance 
or doorway. The door was simply a plaited cocoanut 
leaf with hinges of creepers. These sleeping huts 
would be about twelve feet by eight feet. The modern 
hut has nearly always upright posts, with wall-plates 


instead of bent poles, and this, of course, is much 
cooler and more healthy than the old-fashioned style. 

The large sinian-lo (general cooking and sleeping 
house for the young or unmarried males) is almost 
always built in the old way — without walls. It has a 
very rustic and picturesque appearance. These sinian-lo 
are usually from forty feet to fifty feet in length, and 
from fifteen to twenty feet in width. When we first 
came to Erromanga the siman-ld was, in every case, 
owned by a chief of rank. None of the common people 
dared to imitate the fan-Id or high chiefs, by putting 
up one of these houses. They were very large, and 
built with the utmost care and taste. In the south dis- 
tricts of the island, I have seen siman-ld which were 
over one hundred feet long, twenty feet wide and about 
twenty-five feet in height. Owing to the fires which 
were constantly burning in them, all the woodwork 
was black and shining, and was a very considerable 
improvement to the appearance of the enormous build- 
ings, within and without 

Now, every young man who can get enough grass 
and wood together puts up a kind of siman-ld, and he 
will always find some " hangers on " to cook and sleep 
in it, who are too lazy to build a house for themselves. 
At the present time, there must be about fifteen or six- 
teen such siman-lo in Dillon's Bay alone, and there are 
not more than a hundred people in the village. The 
Erromangan houses are indeed very pretty when new, 
and, in my opinion, are much finer than those of the 
other islands. If the people would only take more 
pains to keep them clean, they could make them very 
attractive, but, unfortunately, the reverse is the case. 
There is not a mat, no order, nothing neat and tidy; 
but clothing, children, adults, knives, guns, cixes, food 
and ash-piles all mixed up together, and hard it is to 


say what the blackest thing is. Of course I am speak- 
ing of the very worst of them now. Some of our people, 
I must say, do try to make their houses more present- 
able, and those who are naturally clean and tidy will 
show their good habits in everything. Very good 
houses are built on Efate. They are large and roomy, 
with doors in the sides, and often with projecting roof 
and verandah. The Efate houses are clean, and the 
ground completely covered with excellent mats made by 
the people themselves, and raised seats placed around 
the wall. The wood of the Erromangan houses is of 
the best 77iore, the lashing being of split cane, called 
teru. The cord used in tying the thatch is made from 
the leaf of the pandanus or screw pine. 

Fences are made of reeds worked in a diamond pat- 
tern, and the inner walls of houses are often ornamented 
in this way. 

Erromanga, especially in the west coast, as I have said 
before, is not a fertile island, but generally our people 
have enough and to spare. The indigenous foods are : 
yams, of which there are twenty-six different varieties ; 
the ufle, or sweet yam ; taro, of which there are seventeen 
kinds ; the banana, of which there are at least thirteen 
kinds ; tampoH, a species of hibiscus and called cabbage ; 
beans ; novivane, or horse-chestnut ; another ndvwane 
(' seed '), out of which match-boxe.s are made by Euro- 
peans ; the yivoli, or arrowroot ; nupne, or tapioca ; nie\ 
a wild, stringy root resembling yam in appearance ; nevi ; 
yetu ; wevi, or rose-apple ; narah ; nesiy or pa paw apple ; 
mushrooms, etc. There is a large variety of the native 
fig, butj as it is not cultivated and allowed to run to 
waste, it is not edible. A fig tree that grows on Tanna 
bears a very fine fruit. I planted it on this island, and 
the natives are extremely fond of it. They often use 
the young leaves in the same way as their tampoli 


(cabbage). A wild native orange grows, but is quite 
unfit for use. The real orange, which has been intro- 
duced, grows luxuriantly. Mrs. Henry was the first to 
plant it ; Mr. Gordon planted more, and, since we came 
in 1872, we have put out tree after tree, and have en- 
couraged the natives to do so also. As far as I know, 
there are now about seven hundred trees on the island, 
and these bear on an average from five hundred to two 
thousand fruits during the season, which is a long one, 
lasting from about the end of February to the beginning 
of November and sometimes even later. The Erro- 
mangan orange is thin-skinned, large and juicy ; we 
think it a perfect fruit. Unfortunately, any attempts 
to ship cases of them to Sydney have been failures, 
owing partly to the long sea-trip before they could be 
landed and the fact that the steamer could only call 
for them at certain dates. When these difficulties were 
removed, there still remained the expense of boxes, 
etc., and the then heavy duty charges in Sydney. So 
there has been no profit whatever. But regarding the 
suitableness of the fruit itself, the trade opinion was that 
no better oranges had ever been on the market. It is 
a pity that the natives have not been able to make 
something by this export, for every year there are 
thousands of beautiful oranges going to waste. Lemons 
also thrive in abundance. Other fruits which grow well 
under cultivation are limes, the pine-apple, custard-apple, 
mango, guava, water-melon and granadilla. Maize corn 
also grows plentifully. Pumpkins, cabbage, onions and 
other vegetables are capable of cultivation, though our 
natives are not so industrious in planting these as they 
might be. Coffee grows very well on all the islands of 
the group ; it has never been exported from this one. 
The yam is the most important of the native pro- 
ducts, for taro is not plentiful, and is rarely grown on 


the west side of Erromanga. The yams range in length 
from about seven inches to four and five feet, but the 
usual size is about two feet in length and twelve inches 
round. I believe they grow to a much larger size on 
many of the other islands, but they certainly are not 
superior in quality to the Erromangan yams, which, 
I think, cannot be beaten anywhere. The very small 
yams, commonly known among white people as " chiefs' 
yams," are only roasted in the hot embers — tovum, as 
this is called. They are cooked to perfection in this 
way, and their taste is excellent. We think that yam 
is very much superior to potato, and never miss the 
latter, though many settlers and others use nothing but 
potato and never seem to really enjoy its substitute. 
The yam is planted in mounds. The ground for the 
plantations is first thoroughly cleared and burnt, all large 
branches lopped from the trees, though the trees them- 
selves are not cut down unless too close together. The 
Erromangans do not adopt such an elaborate system of 
planting as the Tannese and others, but, though they 
do their work on a smaller scale, they take great pains 
in tending their gardens. They plant in the winter. 
When the vine of the yam begins to grow, it is trained 
on reeds from mound to mound, or, if anywhere near 
one, to a tree. 

The big meal of the day is the evening one. When 
the people return from their gardens, about four o'clock 
in the afternoon, or often much later during the planting 
season, they begin at once to prepare their puddings. 
A great hole is dug in the ground and lined with a 
layer of stones. A fire is kindled on these, and on 
this again a number of fairly large stones are thrown. 
While the " oven " is heating, the food is prepared for 
it. Generally the " woman of the house " will attend 
to this, though her husband often helps. Banana leaves, 


which have had the thick part of the centre vein 
peeled off, are laid for a moment over the smoking fire. 
This makes them pliable and tempers them for the heat 
of the oven. The woman then lifts her yam, taro or 
banana, as the case may be, and, sitting on the ground 
with several layers of leaves beside her, she takes her 
grater — two or three of the prickly stalks of the tree- 
fern — and busily grates up and down until the food is 
like a pulp. If she is making a neoki, she now takes 
another leaf or dish in which cocoanut has been grated, 
and mixes with it the meat of prawns, which have been 
caught some distance up the river. This mixture is 
then laid on the mashed yam or taro, the outer part 
of this again being folded over the cocoanut in the 
style of a sandwich. The banana leaves are then care- 
fully brought over each other, and tied up with the stem 
or centre vein which was taken off at the first, or with 
any creeper that may be handy. These have been 
placed under the leaves before the pudding is prepared, 
so that nothing need be moved in the tying. It is now 
ready for the oven, and the upper stones, which are by 
this time thoroughly heated, are lifted off with a forked 
stick, called the woreso or woreJiuvi. The fire is then 
poked away till the lower layer of stones is reached. 
On this are placed numbers of leaves, and on these 
again the neoki, which has just been made ; leaves are 
thrown on top of this, then one hot stone after another. 
Leaves are again put over these, and all are covered in 
with earth and raised in the shape of a mound. The 
food is left to steam for about two hours. The earth 
is then scraped away by halved cocoanut shells, the 
woreso being again used for lifting off the stones. The 
moki is found thoroughly cooked, and, when cut, shows 
the rich red of the prawn right through the cocoanut, 
the flavour of the fish giving the food a delicious taste. 


An opi-opi is made by cutting up tampoli (cabbage) 
into shreds, and putting it between the yam instead of 
grated cocoanut. Instead of being used in that way, 
the cocoanut is mixed with a httle salt water, and then 
strained on to the cabbage through a strainer made of 
the fibrous " cloth " which hangs from the bark of the 
cocoanut tree. The yam is folded over this in the same 
way as in the 7ieoki. 

Another dish, called tampumpie, is made by cutting 
up yam or taro into thin slices. In the centre of this, 
a fowl, well plucked and cleaned, is placed, and grated 
cocoanut, mixed with salt water, strained over all. This 
is a very dainty and palatable dish ; the fowl is cooked 
to perfection, and we often have a tampumpii made in 
preference to having the fowl cooked in our own kitchen. 

A kind of neoki is made by scraping out the seeds 
of the nesi (papaw-apple) and filling the hollow with 
grated cocoanut and prawns. Crabs are often used in 
place of prawns. Fish, almost as soon as it is caught, 
is rolled itt leaves and roasted on hot stones or in the 
embers. Shell-fish are put into a bamboo and roasted, 
and beans are generally cooked in the same way. 

When a pig is to be cooked, it is brained (not bled), 
then at once cut up into quarters. These are first 
singed over a glowing fire, then scraped with knives. 
They are not washed, but, after this, are turned on hot 
stones, and then scraped again with knives until quite 
clean — that is, what a native would call quite clean. 
They are then rolled in leaves, and cooked in the ground 
in the ordinary way. If they are very large, and a big 
" oven " is being prepared, the quarters are just thrown 
on the hot stones, with a layer of leaves under and 
over them. Huge junks of yams are placed here and 
there in the same " oven," and over all these the smaller 
roasts or puddings that are to be cooked. After the 


pork has been taken out and divided, it is often cut up 
into smaller pieces and made into a variety of dainty 

The bamboo is used for a water-bottle ; the pieces 
which divide the sections having been knocked out. 
These " bottles " are of all lengths from about four feet 
to ten or twelve feet, or even longer. Bamboos are 
often carved, principally in the leaf design and in lattice- 
work. Those used for the water are generally plain. 

Fish, both from fresh and salt water, is plentiful, and 
very good. Among birds we have the large blue pigeon, 
parrot, parroquet, the sea pigeon, which burrows its 
nest in the ground by roots of trees and on high hills, 
the hawk {sokewavi), raven, white and dark owl, crane 
plover, thrush, king-fisher, the flying-fox {nicgkerai\ the 
swallow {menuk sat), the wild canary and many other 

When we took peacocks to Erromanga they were a 
great curiosity, and were very much admired. I was 
sitting on the verandah one day when a number of half- 
heathen were strolling round for the sights. One of 
them, who " knew a lot," was showing the rest the " lions " 
of the place. One of the last that they came upon was 
the peacock, strutting about in all his bravery and fine 
feathers. " Can you tell me what that is ? " said the 
gentleman that knew. " No ! I thought not, you ignor- 
ant fellows. Well," drawing himself up with a look of 
conscious pride, "/can tell you ; that is the bull !" 

I may be permitted to add here a few pages on some 
of the moral aspects of the native character, as the pro- 
duct of heathenism. 

An Erromangan seldom, if ever, shows any sign of 
gratitude by look, gesture or speech, and no native 
from one end of the group to the other has the slightest 
particle of permanent gratitude Gratitude for the 


time he has, but it is short-lived. An Erromangan 
never speaks if a sign, such as the raising of the eye- 
brows, will convey his meaning. Except in very rare 
instances, he has no refinement in his manner, and 
will pass you what you want with his foot, if, indeed, he 
will trouble himself to do even that ; more generally, 
he will point in the direction of what you want over 
his shoulder or with a toss of the head. 

He has no respect for his elders, and obeys no one, 
and studies no one's interest but his own. He gives 
away nothing for nothing ; there is no such thing as a 
bond-fide present. There is also no forgiveness ; an 
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, to the bitter 
end ; forgiveness is weakness in his eyes, or want of 
power to avenge. He never utters a word when very 
angry ; so long as he speaks, you need not fear him, 
but as soon as he looks down and seems perfectly re- 
gardless and utters not a word, beware, for he is danger- 
ous now. 

Natives walk always in single file, no matter how 
broad the path or road. They follow the most even 
ground regardless of its zig-zag windmgs or how much 
it may add to the journey or distance. Women turn 
out of the path to give place to men, and even to small 
boys, and that, too, when the women are carrying 
heavy loads, and the men or boys are carrying nothing. 
Their food is prepared as it must have been by their 
forefathers, for they never change. No one will tell 
you his own name, if he can avoid it. They all have a 
name, and then some other name to distinguish them 
from other persons bearing the first name ; as, John the 
grandson of James. They are distinguished not by the 
father's name, but the mother's father's, not by the 
father's father's. A mother never gives the name to 
her child, but this is always done by the father, and 


the child's real name must never be used although they 
all know what its name is, until the father announces 
the name; otherwise, the child would become sick and 

They are imitators, never inventors. One man makes 
his canoe, hut, digging-stick, bow and arrows, club, 
fence, plantation, fishing-line, mat, basket and spear in 
every detail exactly like every other man before his 
time. They follow the curve line, the line of beauty, 
and are perfectly incapable of doing any work straight, 
the laying out of a house, for instance. 

It is not that 'hey are always unwilling to do a thing 
straight, I think, so much as that they do not seem 
capable of doing anything straight. In other words, 
there seems to be a defect in them in these matters. 
To them it does not seem crooked, because they have 
never done anything but what was crooked. Right- 
angles they never by any chance make ; every corner 
is rounded off. True, after long training, a girl, say, 
may be made to lay a table-cloth straight or square on 
the table, but she does it parrot-like, and lays the plate, 
knife and fork just where she was told, but her ideas of 
straight and crooked undergo no change ; straight and 
crooked are one and the same to her ; for, once away 
from that special work, she will place anything else 
crooked, if possible. To her straight is crooked and 
crooked is straight. 

I never knew any native to place a pair of shoes 
together with the right shoe on the right-hand side and 
the left shoe on the left-hand side. Never! Nor have 
I ever seen a native put a trunk or box down against a 
wall with the side on which the lock was to the front, 
but always it was hinges out, lock in, and often upside- 
down. In a word, if there is a possible stupid or wrong 


way of doing a thing, that is almost to a certainty the 
way a native will do it. 

You cannot give general instructions to a native, 
leaving details to his common-sense and to circum- 
stances ; no ; you must be absolute, and say, " Do this, 
don't do that; it is right to do this, wrong to do that," 
and so on ; not only to children^ but to adults, both 
the ignorant and those well instructed. Unless you 
mention every little detail, and name the place where a 
thing is to be put, you are sure to find there has been 
bungling. They do not think, do not compare. 

A sin is a sin, but it is being found out that generally 
hurts a man's mind, though frequently fear of sickness, 
or sickness to his child, makes him confess of his own 
accord. Punishment must be swift, or the feelings of 
the righteous will lean towards the offender. 

Truth, in heathenism, was told only when it suited 
best, and no heathen would hesitate to tell a lie if it 
suited his immediate purpose better than the truth ; or, 
in short, he never told the truth if a lie suited him 
better. Indeed, I find all these islanders very regardless 
— heathens and Christians — of the very truth most sure. 
And almost any departure from the strict truth is quite 
right, if thereby danger is escaped, or what appears 
danger. The end justifies the means. I often used to 
say to the young men who acted as my boat's crew 
for the time, when they told the heathen on the shore, 
who called to know where we were going and were told 
we were going to some place when we had no intention 
of going, that they had deceived these people. Their 
reply was : " Misi, if we had told them the truth, they 
would know where we were going and perhaps influence 
the people against us". Seldom is a man ever in the 
wrong ; it is always " t'other fellow ". I never yet 
could bring the direct statement of another man home 


to any native ; he always wriggled out of it, and I am 
afraid there is not a native in the whole group I would 
believe on his own statement of a case touching himself. 
And I am never surprised at anything any man may 
do, or anything he may say, any day, however grieved 
I may be. Of course, Christianity is doing much to 
change the fibre of the native character. 

It is not that natives are always reckless about the 
truth so much as that they seem utterly incapable of 
stating anything definitely, or stating a thing just as it 
really occurred. Perhaps this is largely owing to the 
fact that, until missionaries went among them and taught 
them the arts of reading ,and writing, a statement passed 
from one to the other in a free and easy conversational 
manner, and so the narrative grew as it passed on ; and 
bits were dropped out, thoughtlessly, it may be, or 
perhaps with intent sometimes, and so in this careless, 
free and easy way the narrative was partly true and 
partly untrue. All natives exaggerate frightfully ; they 
are Orientalists. An ordinary fowl is said to be, in 
size, a large turkey ; a pig is as big as a boat ; a small 
twig, which struck a man's face, he says was a huge 
branch of a tree ; a yam he grew in his garden was 
as big as a large packing-case ; when he made a small 
hack upon his hand when chipping, he cut his hand 
almost off. 

In the same way, the native tales show that there were 
giants in other days. They say some of the men long 
ago were so immensely big that, when one of these 
huge giants sat down in the public square, his broad 
shoulders quite hid all the ordinary sized men who were 
sitting behind him. Not a native of this island but 
believes this. There were dwarfs, also, and they were 
so small that they could move along in the grass, attack, 
and even kill, big men instantly, as the grass concealed 


their approach. One of these dwarfs committed so 
many murders among the people that they resolved to 
kill him. Kill him they did, again and again, but he 
always became ahve again. Then they killed him and 
hurled him over a high precipice ; but he immediately 
gathered himself together and rushed right up the rocks 
towards them, and they all fled in terror. They next 
killed him, as they thought, by chopping his head off, 
but he sprang to his feet instantly, picked up his head, 
and stuck it on again, and rushed at them, scattering 
them in all directions. 

Finally they killed him, made mincemeat of him, 
worked these finely cut pieces of flesh into a pudding, and 
cooked it in an ordinary oven for some hours, but when 
they opened up the oven their pudding was raw meat. 
Then they gathered great logs, made a huge fire of these 
and heated immense stones ; and, digging a great hole 
in the ground, they placed these hot stones in the hole, 
putting their finely cut dwarf-pudding in the very centre, 
and, having covered all in with leaves and earth, they 
cooked it for many days. This killed the fellow ; life 
was now gone, but the pudding was so tough that all 
their combined efforts to eat it were vain ; so they threw 
it down the side of a hill, and were never after troubled 
by that dwarf. 

When a native offends you or acts wrongly in some 
way or another, he seldom comes to you to apologise 
or explain matters; he rather waits for you to speak 
to him, but he is waiting, and, it may be, is desirous 
that he should be reproved. He may bring a present 
of food (always food) to you ; that is his apology. An 
Erromangan is rarely impudent or insolent to a person's 
face — that is, to a white person, and almost never to 
a missionary or his family — ^but he shows anger and 
his ill-will by neglecting his work, destroying something, 


disputing with servants about the Mission station and 
driving them away, by leaving church and school, or 
going away from the district or to Queensland in a 
labour vessel. 

If a native in your employ should feel not quite well, 
he will just go to his hut and lie down, and, whether 
his duties are important to you or otherwise, he will 
never think of sending you word that he is ill, nor will 
he make the slightest effort to procure a substitute. 
If he should be the man who looks after the cattle and 
brings the milk, the inconvenience is most annoying. 
If he should continue ill for a week or month, you are 
expected to pay the man who performed his duties all 
that time, and, of course, pay him also for not doing 

You employ a native at so much per day, week, month 
or year to work at any work anywhere you tell him, 
but if you send him to help with a teacher's house, say, 
he expects the teacher to pay him for that work, while 
his wages are going on with you. Or you send your 
servant away for some firewood in your boat with a 
few men you have employed for that special job of 
work, but when you pay them, when they have finished 
their job, he expects exactly the same number of shil- 
lings each one of those men gets, while he is being paid 
for his whole time. But traders and missionaries are 
changing all this nonsense and dishonesty, and it is 
high time. A native is hired, say for £6 a year, his 
board provided also, but if, during the year he should 
ask for cash now and then, to the amount in all of £2, 
and you give him £^ the balance due him when his 
year is up, he will ask you where the other £2 of wages 
are. I now discourage all I can the giving of any 
sum till his year is up, and then I take him in some 
evening, put down on the table £b all in a row, as 


straight as a ramrod, and coming down on each silver 
pound with my finger, I say : " Si, diiru, desel, inindevat, 
siikrim, sukrim-inenki" that is ' one, two, three, four, five, 
five and one,' and ask him to rise and receive his wages 
and thank me. He does so. Then I say : " You got 
five shilHngs on such a day, John ? " — " Yes," he answers. 
" Well," I say, " pay it." He begins putting down, 
slowly bu-t willingly, the five shillings. Then I name 
the next payment, reading out the date and the name 
of the article he mentioned at the time, for which he 
wanted the money so much. He smiles, and says : 
" Koy ehe ! * Oh, yes ! ' " And so it goes on until he has paid 
back all the advances he had got during the year, and, 
unless these take a very large proportion of his whole 
wages for the year, he is perfectly satisfied. He had the 
satisfaction of handling the £6, and paying in detail 
his petty debts from his salary! 

I find the Christian natives of Erromanga, with very 
few exceptions, remarkably honest in money matters, and 
any little thing I have procured for them and they can- 
not, perhaps, pay for it at the time of delivery, or only in 
part, they are most honest in remembering it and paying 
for it, or any balance which may have remained, even to 
the small coin of threepence. Remembering what 
thieves and beggars they were when they were heathens, 
we are often amazed as well as encouraged and de- 
lighted at the wonderful change that has come over 
them in this, one of the highest and best tests of a good 



The natives of Erromanga in their heathen state had 
no special god or gods, if we except the great Nobu, 
who made them and everything on the earth and in 
the water. They did not worship this Nobu, at least 
not in the same way as we look upon worship ; but 
they venerated the spirits of their departed ancestors. 
All these spirits were evil, and roamed the earth doing 
harm to men. They had to be propitiated by offerings 
of food, which were placed regularly in the spots which 
' the spirits,' the natemas, frequented. The rats in those 
parts lived well, and the people were easy in their minds 
when they saw that their presents had been accepted 
by the troublesome ghost-ancestors. As far as I can 
make out, they had no belief in a future state. When a 
man died, they said, " Alo, ' he has gone away,' " and 
become an evil spirit to haunt the living. 

The sun and the moon, especially the latter, were 
sacred, and the moon is symbolised by their navilah 
or sacred stones. These navilah, they believe, were not 
made by human hands ; they were given to them as 
heirlooms by their forefathers, who, in their turn, re- 
ceived them from the spirits. When a man was dying 
he generally sent for his son, or nearest male relative, 
and told him where the family navilah were buried,^ 
for the ground was the Bank of Deposit where these 
precious relics were usually stored. Sometimes he died 



before he could tell this, or perhaps, out of anger, he 
preferred to be silent, and thus deprive his successor 
of this heritage. Thus these stones might be buried 
for years and then suddenly be found. There was no 
risk of a stone not being recognised by the family to 
whom it belonged, for each navilah has its own name 
and history. Some bear a man's name, others a 
woman's, such as the one called Nanepin-taru, which 
had been handed down from one generation to another, 
and at last came into my possession. When we first 
came to Erromanga, I had great difficulty in getting any 
of these ; for whenever a man became a Christian 
he, as a rule, forfeited his claim to the stone, and it had 
to be passed on to other members of his family. And 
the heathen, of course, would never part with them. 
Now, I can often buy them, though, in nearly every case, 
I am given to understand that I am wonderfully lucky 
in securing such a prize. I rather fancy there is a 
dodge in this ; for when a man will not bring the stone 
in daylight, but insists on slipping round at night with 
it tied up in a lot of old rags, he generally expects a 
big return. The navilah is in the form of a ring or of 
the crescent moon, though sometimes almost straight. 
They are of all sizes, and when they are ring-shaped 
a man can easily ^ crawl through the largest, which weigh 
from forty to fifty pounds and are about five feet in 
circumference. They were also given as purchase- 
money for wives, and often, at their feasts, a chief will 
present another with a navilah, there being always an 
exchange of the compliment at the return feast. 

A feast or nisekar was prepared by one chief in 
honour of another. A number of friends of the invited 
chief would accompany him, and, though they might 
not be at all friendly with the host, native etiquette 
made them perfectly safe, for they came under the 


protection of the guest. For many months before, 
yams and other root-food had been gathered and tied 
on to an enormous scaffolding about a hundred feet 
high. As the time of the nisekar drew near, pigs were 
placed within the scaffold enclosure, and fed till they 
were just rolling in fat ; fresh yams and fowls also were 
added. The nisekar opened with a sham fight, as if to 
gain possession of the food, and, though the parties 
fought hard, it was all in good part. Those who won 
became the owners of the feast, but all joined in, and 
the whole time was then given up to revelling. Should 
the fighting get too hot, or if, perhaps, one side, re- 
membering an old grudge, turned in dead earnest on the 
other, it often led to downright war. If a man was 
wounded in the sham fight, that was thought nothing 
of ; but if, for some reason or other, his friends suspected 
treachery, they took revenge at once, and if the man 
was mortally wounded they would stop at nothing. 
Often, in a case like this, a visiting chief and his people 
had to " take to their heels " or be killed. Singing, 
dancing and feasting were carried on for days and 
weeks, both men and women taking part. All were 
painted. At these nisekar there was great bartering of 
wives, and much mischief, often murder, was plotted. A 
whole season was given up to feasting, and the people 
went from one chief's place to another, and had a 
thorough round of festivities. 

Chieftainship is hereditary. A man cannot attain to 
this rank by any feat of bravery, nor can he be elected. 
The chiefs are called i\\Q fan-Id, 'great men'. A nefori, 
* snatcher,' is an under-chief who has vanquished a higher 
one in war, and who then " snatches " his power and 
rights. ' A chief,' naiemenok, is always a chief, even if 
he has not a single follower. The chief Tangkau, at 
one time, had only one subject — his wife. Chiefs had 


a great deal of influence over their people, but mostly 
this influence was used only for evil. I could never 
settle a teacher in any village without the consent of 
the chief. When this was given, and his protection 
promised, we felt that, as far as the chief was concerned, 
the teacher was safe, and would be well treated. 

War between tribes generally arose from woman- 
stealing or disputes about land, though it was often 
brought on by simpler causes. When a natemenok 
decided to go to war with another, he challenged him 
by sending some people to burn a house, cut down 
banana trees, or shoot arrows into the premises belong- 
ing to him. These insults at once led to battle. The 
attacking party would, if possible, take possession of a 
height, and rain down their arrows and missiles on the 
village below. If the villagers had been warned before- 
hand, great stockades were built round their houses, and 
with this protection they were often successful in driving 
off the enemy. If the fighting was in the open and a 
chief killed, his people were allowed to carry off the 
body and waiP over it. Both parties drew off for a 
little, and, when the mourning was over, started again to 
fight as hotly as ever. These wars, or rather successions 
of wars often kept on for many months, the contending 
parties going back to work in their plantations every 
now and again. Tribe after tribe would join in, until 
sometimes the whole half of the island was drawn into 
war, and perhaps this state of things continued for 
years. People from one tribe durst not visit another; 
and so, in 1889, when I was proceeding round the island, 
I found that some old men wanted to go with me, for 
they had never seen some of the districts that I was going 
to visit. Very few people were killed in war, though 
many were wounded ; few were made prisoners, the men 


being generally killed outright, though sometimes taken 
alive and fed up for cannibal feasts. 

My own opinion is,, that, though the Erromangans 
practised cannibalism, they were not much given to it. 
The last case on the island occurred about twenty-five 
years ago. It is a thing that the old people seem 
ashamed even to mention, though some have confessed 
that human flesh, nelat, was very good. They did 
not often kill merely for the sake of eating, but when 
prisoners were taken they killed them for this purpose. 
The chief of an opposing party, if killed, was rarely 
eaten, but, as I have just said, his body was carried off 
the field. Infants who were not wanted to live were 
knocked on the head and eaten. There must have 
been, from all accounts, many white men who were 
eaten on Erromanga, and we know for a fact that 
the bodies of Williams and Harris met with this fate. 
The subject is so repulsive that I have rarely spoken of 
it to my people, and it is pleasing to see that the young 
generation have, as dear Yomot prophesied, forgotten 
or are in ignorance of these shocking deeds of 

Nehave, that is, the kava liquor, was regularly drunk 
every evening by the men. The kava plant {piper 
methysticiini) is a little shrub about four feet high, be- 
longing to the pepper family, with a large, round leaf 
about the size of a man's hand. The root of this was 
chewed by boys * until it was like a piece of rope. It 
was then laid in a wooden vessel, water was poured in, 
and the mixture strained through the fibre or nougat 
of the cocoanut tree ; the liquid was served in cocoanut 
shells. No woman would ever come near the siman-ld 
during the making or drinking of the kava, and no boys 
were allowed to drink it. It has a bitter, astringent 
taste, and is, of course, a narcotic. Almost as soon as 


it is drunk, it takes effect ; the man becomes sleepy and 
stupefied at once. We have often passed a siman-lo 
where it was being made, and have come back in about 
half an hour to find the drinkers lying here and there 
sleeping off its effects. It seems to make them stupidly 
good-natured, and they have often granted us any 
favour just after they have been drinking. Some of 
the old heathen still indulge in its use, though it has, 
of course, been quite given up by all Christians. Some 
years ago, when visiting different villages, a number of 
heathen and semi-heathen were often with us. When 
the usual evening hour for the kava-drinking came, they 
seemed really miserable without it, and would often slip 
away, one by one, to any heathen premises that might 
be near, to get a share of the bowl that was made there. 
It was never taken at any other time of the day but in 
the evening. 

When a male child of a chief was born, kava was 
gathered, and that evening prepared and drunk by the 
father and his friends. When this was over, one of the 
number would ask the father what the name of his 
child was to be, and, on being told, they would call out 
the name so that all around could hear. There was 
no other ceremony than this at the naming of the child. 
A friend, who was a chief, might sometimes take the 
place of the father and give the name, but a servant or 
one of the people could not do so. A child was, and 
is still, always named after one of the father's relations, 
never after any of its mother's people, although actually 
the surname or distinguishing title is from the mother's 
side. For instance, besides his own name a child is 
always called " the grandchild, ' ohopon* of so-and-so, " * 
naming the mother's father ; and however many brothers 
and sisters he may have, if they have all the same mother 
they have all the same surname. When a man had a 


number of wives, two or three of his children might 
have the same name, but each would be distinguished 
by the name of his maternal grandfather. The male 
child of a chief was, in heathenism, not shown to the 
public until he had eaten food, and then this wonderful 
feat was publicly announced by the blowing of a shell. 
A female child was well cared for, though counted as 
of far less importance, and was not kept out of sight 
like the male child. Sometimes, if there had been 
several female children born and no males, the last 
born was killed at once, both parents being party to 
the deed, and no one thought of interfering. The 
child was theirs to do with as they pleased! But the 
infanticide of abortion was usually brought about by the 
mother drinking the milk of the young cocoanut, much 
heated. Deformed and sickly children were treated as 
kindly as healthy ones; for even in heathenism the 
Erromangans were remarkably kind and indulgent — 
too much so — to their children. Children were not 
taught any useful habits ; they grew up in utter idleness, 
and uncared for, except that they got plenty of food. 
Their bodies were seldom if ever washed, their going 
into the water being simply for fun and to learn to 
swim, but not to rid themselves of dirt. With the ex- 
ception of the inland people, the Erromangans, like most 
of the islanders, are fine swimmers, and seem to take 
to the water like fish. After a big sea they will play 
in the surf for hours ; some of them, holding on to 
planks,* will roll in on the biggest waves, thoroughly 
enjoying the excitement of it all. 

A girl was betrothed very young, but was not at once 
taken to her future husband's home, she lived with his 
mother or sister, and sometimes with her own friends, 
though this latter arrangement was not common, for fear 
of her being stolen or kept back from her rightful 


owner. The girl's father and his friends arranged the 
match, but, according to their etiquette, the friends, not 
the father, made the first move ; for he was supposed 
to be narumprum, ' ashamed,' to take much part in the 
matter. His wishes were first consulted, and then the 
negotiations were left in the hands of his friends. The 
girl herself was never so much as spoken to on the 
subject, though her mother was told of it. When the 
time came for her to be claimed, the mother would, on 
some night agreed upon, arrange to sleep with her 
daughter. The chosen man, accompanied by his friends, 
arrived, and placed a star-club and charms beside the 
sleeping girl. No sooner were they gone, than the 
mother and father would wake her, and tell her that her 
husband had come for her. If she happened to know 
him and perhaps disliked him, on account of age, for 
instance, and began to cry, she was told to be quiet ; 
what had that to do with it .-* the man was her husband, 
and that settled it. Her mother then dressed her in 
long skirts with trains — the marriage dress — and she 
was at once sent off with her husband ; if very young, 
to be taken to live with his mother or nearest female 
relative. The payment for the girl — made in star-clubs, 
navilah, food, etc. — often extends over years, and, for a 
long time after he is married, the husband is Httle else 
than a drudge to his wife's male relatives. In heathen- 
ism, marriage was frequently effected by capture. Girls 
were often exchanged, though both parties paid as well ; 
and when a girl was given by one tribe, the people who 
got her were expected to give in return to her village 
their first marriageable girl. Since our Erromangans 
have become Christians, a woman may, and often does, 
have her own say as to marriage, and may decline abso- 
lutely the husband who has been chosen for her, and 
will not marry until she can marry the man she chooses 


herself. In the Dillon's Bay village we have an " old 
maid " — an unheard-of personage in heathen days. This 
girl (for she looks quite young, though we know her age) 
has refused a number of eligible offers ; it is said that 
she did not get the man she wanted and who wanted 
her, years ago, and so prefers " single blessedness " to 
having any other man. In heathen days, she would have 
been forced to marry at least twenty years ago. Cousins 
do not marry ; to do so would be a great disgrace, for 
they are not called cousins as with us but brothers and 
sisters. A chief had from two to ten wives, but com- 
monly not more than three or four. The wives were 
generally a great deal younger than he was ; he might 
be about fifty or sixty, and their ages range from four- 
teen to forty years. There was always one, the oldest, 
who was called his " wife," ' retepon ' ; the others were 
merely his ovasiven, ' women,' or noete, ' property '. The 
women did all of the hard plantation work, but, on the 
whole, were well treated by their husbands. When a 
cliief died, all his wives could be claimed by his brother, 
though they were often passed on to other relatives. 
They were supposed to mourn for three or four months ; 
the widow of an ordinary man mourned for forty days. 
During all this time they were not allowed to leave 
their premises, but had food brought to them by their 

After a great chief had been buried, nahur or mourn- 
ing began, and was continued for several weeks. Be- 
sides the relatives and friends of the deceased man, 
professional and paid mourners''' — old women — gathered 
in. Day after day pigs and fowls were killed, and great 
ovens of food prepared and eaten. This was to do 
honour to the dead, to show what a great man he had 
been. Many of the mourners assembled before he died, 
and the dying man often gave directions as to how 


the ceremony was to be gone through, and would feel 
distressed, ' nanimpruinl if his death was long in coming, 
fearing that his friends would be tired of waiting for it. 
The weird death-wail was carried on nearly the whole 
of this time ; for, even when the real mourners stopped 
now and again, there was still heard the crooning of an 
old white-headed and blackened " professional ". Long 
poles were roughly sunk in the ground, and brought 
together in a circle, often round a tree, and inside of this 
was thrown all the rubbish of old food from the feast — • 
for the gathering really was a funeral feast.^ Such was 
the nahur ; it was a sort of an ornament to the memory 
of the dead man, whose spirit was then supposed to dwell 
there. It was never pulled down. All over the island 
we come upon these old nahur grounds. During the 
last week or so of the mourning, a great hole was dug in 
the earth, a fire kindled in it, and pigs and dogs were 
killed and thrown in, with food on top of all. The 
wives of the dead chief all sat round this hole, wailing, 
and wearing their garb of widowhood — very short 
skirts and necklaces made of small black shells. If the 
brother or other male relative of the deceased husband 
now wanted to claim one or all of them, he walked up 
to the circle, lifted from their necks the mourning neck- 
laces and threw them in the hole where the rubbish was 
burning. The women then belonged to him, and, as 
they were no longer widows, their wailing ceased, and 
they at once followed their new owner. If a married 
woman died, her husband was only expected to mourn 
for about a week — the mourning consisting of merely 
sitting still. 

People were buried either in caves or in the ground, 
the earth being hollowed out to a depth of a few feet. 
A filled-up grave was not in the shape of a mound, 
but was recognised rather by a depression of the soil 


The grave of a great chief was not covered in ; the man 
was laid on his back with a layer of cocoanut leaves 
upon him, and was supposed to " keep an eye " on all 
that was going on around him. Bodies are always pre- 
pared for burial by being tied up in cocoanut leaf mats. 
There was a case, soon after we came here, of a man 
at Nugkon-nu, near Cook's Bay, who fell into a trance, 
but as his friends thought he was dead they proposed to 
bury him. So they wrapped him in plaited leaves, and 
a great wailing went on for some time. They had to 
carry the man some distance to the grave ; this they did, 
and, as they thought, put him safely under ground. 
He had been semi-conscious while being carried, but 
could not move, nor could he call out ; but as soon as 
the earth had been lightly thrown on top of him he 
recovered, and found himself very neatly done up in 
the " shroud ". As he was naturally anxious to get out 
of it and was very lightly covered with earth, it was 
an easy matter to extricate himself again. The shock 
of burial must have given him new strength ; at any rate, 
he was able to walk back to the village, and the con- 
sternation of the people can be imagined when they 
saw the friend, whom they had carefully buried an hour 
or so before, strolling back to his house. In heathenism, 
the poor fellow would have been killed as being "pos- 
sessed ". 

Usually a person is prepared for his burial before 
death. When a man sends to his house for his best 
clothes we know what that means, and, strange to say, 
even if he is not so very ill, if he once makes up his 
mind to die, die he will. During sickness the Erro- 
mangans are well cared for by their friends, and this 
was true of them as heathen also, though it is often 
in the little attentions that they are sadly- lacking ; 
perhaps they leave a dying man for hours without once 


wetting his lips with water, not because they want to 
neglect him but because he has not asked for it! Just 
at the last, they will make all kinds of savoury dishes, 
which the poor man cannot eat. Just before the end, 
perhaps, he will take a longing for sugar-cane, and this 
is generally the last nourishment a sick person takes. 
Some of our people, however, are exceptionally kind to 
their friends when they are ill. There are women who will 
care for their dying husbands with every tender atten- 
tion, sitting hour after hour fanning them, and doing 
all in their power to make their last moments peaceful. 
Our natives have no fear of death, or, if they have, they 
never show it. As Christians, they trust in their Saviour 
with a simple, childlike faitli. 

In heathenism no death was put down to natural 
causes ; it was all the work of natemas-ivai, ' witchcraft '. 
If a man wanted to cause the illness or death of another, 
the neterm sokowar, ' sacred man,' was consulted If the 
man could take him a piece of sugar-cane that the other 
had been chewing and had thrown away, or anything 
belonging to him,® such as some of his hair, all the 
better. Sugar-cane seemed specially good in helping 
witchcraft, and if a man's enemy managed to get a 
piece that he had been eating he counted himself very 
fortunate. For this reason, a person never threw away, 
if he could help it, anything that he had been eating, 
but was careful to burn it. The sorcerer mixed the 
sugar-cane with mud and certain leaves, and, mumbling 
some incantation over it, doomed the owner to severe 
illness or death. Very often the man did take ill and die 
• — from fright, having heard of the " evil influence " over 
him. The neteine sokowar was well paid for his services. 
Sometimes the bewitched man could persuade him to 
remove his curse ; this was an expensive operation, and 
always required big pay. There were many of these 


sorcerers all over the island ; they lived apart from their 
tribes, and were generally deformed or maimed of a 
limb. Novwai, the sorcerer, was the one consulted by 
the Dillon's Bay people, and he lived along the coast 
at Raumpong ; he had one eye out. On his becoming a 
Christian, the name of Simon was given him. Owing to 
their big fees the sacred men were able to live well, 
and, besides these fees, presents of food were constantly 
given in order to obtain their favour. They were both 
feared and hated by the people around. 

Wind and rain-makers were also sacred men. If a 
canoe was going to Tanna or Aniwa, the people waited 
till the wind-man gave them favourable weather. Of 
course, the first good wind that came was his wind, 
though it was often, " owing to their miserable pay," 
late in coming. There were also storm and drought- 
makers. The thunder-makers lived in the Dillon's Bay 
district. Yams were never eaten till pronounced good 
by a sacred man. The netevie sokoivar believed fully 
in his own powers. In the beginning of 1879, 3- strong 
westerly gale brought a big sea into Dillon's Bay, and 
the bar of the river was completely blocked. I kept a 
number of men working for three days to clear the 
passages. Noye was one of them, and laughingly told 
me that there was an old rain-maker at Unepang who 
was saying, " Why are Misi and the men going to all 
that work.? I am going to make a big rain that will 
take all that spit away." The rainy season was just 
about over, but on the ist of April the rain began and 
poured down for about four days with scarcely a 
break. The river rose to such a height that canoes 
were carried out to sea. The bar that had been block- 
ing the river was completely swept away, and the pas- 
sage was as clear as we could have wished. It was no 
use to insist that the old Unepang rain-maker had 


nothing to do with this ; even some of our professing 
Christians, I am sure, believed that it was his work. 
For they ding to their old superstitions and find it hard 
to give them up. I never saw anything fit in so well 
as that rain did. 

The sacred men also acted as doctors. Their remedies 
were often good, but they had many " charms " which 
were supposed to help in the work of curing, and it 
was these that were thought most of. Among some of 
their cures were poultices made from leaves, poultices of 
decayed wood, drinks made from heated nesi or ' papaw 
apple,' and other fruits, and the " baking cure," which is 
used in cases of fever and weakness. An oven is made 
in the ground, and after it is thoroughly heated in the 
usual way, by hot stones, these are removed, and the 
patient is laid in the hole on leaves. The hot earth 
is then filled in over him, all the body, with the ex- 
ception of the head, being completely covered. He is 
" steamed " for half an hour or an hour, as may be 
necessary, and is taken from the oven when he has 
thoroughly perspired. Also bleeding is practised a 
great deal. 

A native will nearly always speak of things with 
exaggeration. A man may be preaching to half a dozen 
people, but he will address them as this niisian netevo- 
kontu, ' a great gathering of hearers '. Speaking to them, 
he will say : " All you chiefs here, old men, young men, 
children and women " — the women always last. If you 
ask a man : " Where is so-and-so ? " you will be answered, 
not in the singular, but in the complimentary plural,^" 
"They are here". Proper names are often distinguish- 
ing, such as Nompwot Navilar^ the 'red Nompwot,' 
Nompwot Nesebo, the 'white Nompwot,' Nari Tantop^ 
* tall Nari,' N. Vagkau, ' N. the crooked '}'^ A young man 
in Dillon's Bay was often called Wav-in-dowi, ' a rat for 


ever'. As a child, he had been a long time creeping 
before he learnt to walk. Wap is a term of endearment, 
and is used to a child. Itemen is the word for " father," 
" his father," " the father," and dineme, in the same way, 
for " mother " ; but nate stands for " my father," and 
name or namo " my mother," and in speaking to and 
of parents these are the terms used. Some years ago 
the natives were evidently so charmed with the English 
" Papa " and " Mamma " that they took to teaching 
their children to call them that One day I was doing 
some work on the roof of the church, and heard a plain- 
tive little voice calling, " Papa, papa ! " Without look- 
ing, I said, " Yes, dear ; I'll be down in a moment ". I 
was rather taken aback when, after getting down the 
ladder, I found a little black urchin waiting for its 
papa ! We made our children call us " Father " cind 
" Mother " after that. A native calls his father's brother 
his " father " and his mother's sister his " mother," while 
his father's sister is only his " aunt " and his mother's 
brother his " uncle ". The children of his father's brother 
and his mother's sister are nearer relations than those 
of his father's sister and his mother's brother. The 
former are his " brothers " and " sisters," while the 
latter are merely " cousins ". Often an old man will be 
called nate and an old woman name, out of love or 
respect. Relationships are sometimes most confusing. 
A man will introduce another to you as his " brother ". 
" Your real ' brother ' ? " you will ask. " Oh, yes ; my real 
brother " {avugsai itnesog). " The same father ? " " No ; 
not the same father." " The same mother, then ? " " Oh, 
no ; not the same mother." " Well, were your father 
and his father brothers ? " " No ; he is avugsai pela^ 
' my brother, but a distant one '." If by this time you 
are not too hopelessly confused, you will probably find 
out after a little that, as children, they lived and played 


together in the same village. And that is how they have 
become brothers. 

To call a man your father, naie, your brother, avugsai, 
or your son, ?tetug, is the greatest token of your love or 

It was amusing one day to hear our little Lilian, then 
about six years old, and her little playmate, Uluhoi, 
saying good-bye to each other. They held each other's 
hands, and looked into each other's eyes, then Uluhoi 
said, "Ah, Lilian!" "Ah, Uluhoi!" she rephed. He 
wrung her hand again and said, "Ah, Lilian pau sorug, 
kemampe ! 'Ah, my dear Lilian, you are going away!'" 
And the little thing answered, " lowe ! Uluhoi pau ! mori 
kos, avugsai pau, netni nate ivi nate inohopoji itais iin 
uyo sorug I ' Oh, woe is me ! my dear Uluhoi I we have 
grown up together, my brother, the child of my father 
and mother and the grandchild of my grandfather and 
grandmotherl '" 



Our visit to Canada ^ was in every way a very delightful 
one. Friends there took such a real interest in Erro- 
manga, and we felt that our meeting them again after 
an absence of nearly twelve years did much to deepen 
that interest ; for we were able to tell them of our 
work, and how God has so blessed this once dark island. 
We had arrived in Sydney from Erromanga on the ist 
of January, 1883, and reached London in the following 
March. We spent altogether two months in England 
and Scotland, and in Glasgow were the guests of our 
warm friends, Mr. and Mrs. H. Barnett. While in Scot- 
land I heard of the death of my father. Just before 
leaving Erromanga, Mrs. Robertson, too, had had the 
same sad tidings, the death of her father. The double 
blow seemed specially hard, as we had been looking 
forward to our meeting, and expecting to see them so 
soon again. 

In the Hibernian from Liverpool to Halifax we had 
very bad weather. Off Newfoundland several icebergs 
were sighted, and the ship had a very narrow escape 
from one of them. About thirteen miles from Halifax 
harbour, we were caught in a dense fog, and for about 
twelve hours made almost no progress. I was in my 
cabin, laid down with an attack of fever ; and when 
every one was thinking that we were not to get in 



till the next day, it was delightful to hear, about four 
o'clock in the afternoon, that the pilot had come on 
board. Two hours later we were alongside the dock. 

The very first person to welcome us home was Mrs. 
BurnSi wife of Dr. Burns of Halifax, Nova Scotia ; she 
was president of the Women's Foreign Mission Society. 
Very soon after her came the Misses M'Culloch, of 
Truro, Mrs. Robertson's close friends — indeed, relations. 
Mrs. Burns very kindly invited us all to her house, but 
we told her that we had already arranged to stay at 
the Halifax Hotel. " Well, it shall not cost you any- 
thing," she replied. Not only was our board there paid 
by the generous members of the Foreign Mission 
Society, but we were not allowed to pay for anything 
while in Halifax. When I went to pay our cabmen, I 
found that they had been paid beforehand. I had been 
" done " this way once or twice by Dr. Burns ; so the 
next time I made the man promise that he would 
take no money from him. Unfortunately, Dr. Burns 
got hold of him soon after, and made him promise to 
take none from me. So I had just to give the thing 
up as hopeless. When I went to take our railway tickets, 
the day we left Halifax, the clerk handed them to me 
in an envelope. Somebody had already bought them. 
Certainly the generous Halifax friends were determined 
to give us every chance to save money. 

On the first night after our arrival, we were at a 
hearty " welcome " meeting given by the Women's 
Foreign Mission Society. A number of ministers were 
present, and among them the Rev. Robert Murray, a 
warm friend. How kind every one was! It was good 
to have been away to get their kind and loving welcome, 
and to see the deep and sincere interest shown in our 
work on Erromanga. The following day we spent 
at Truro with Dr. and Mrs. M'Culloch and their 


daughters, and the next day again we were met by Mrs. 
Robertson's youngest sister and brother. Mr. George 
Dawson drove us himself to Little Harbour, Mrs. 
Robertson's home, where she had the joy of meeting 
her dear mother again. The next day, taking my two 
little girls with me, I went to Avondale, my own home, 
and spent a delightful week there. We caught trout 
in the same little brook that I had fished in as a boy. It 
was, indeed, a joy to my wife and myself to be with 
the dear home-folk again. 

Very soon after our arrival, I had a letter from an 
old friend and fellow-student, the Rev. Wm. Cruik- 
shank, of St. Matthew's Church, Montreal, asking me to 
take meetings there, which I did. After being in Mon- 
treal I also addressed meetings in Quebec and in our 
Canadian London, where I met a great number of new 
friends and renewed old friendships. In November of 
the same year I was again in Montreal, being present 
at and addressing three meetings — one on Home Mis- 
sions, one on Foreign Missions, and the third under the 
auspices of the French Evangelisation Society. By 
God's blessing, I believe that all the meetings did a great 
deal of good in deepening the already keen interest 
felt in our work. Erromanga had had such a thrilling 
history that hearts were touched by hearing how Christ 
had led us and had blessed us and our faithful teachers in 
the telling of His love to those sitting in darkness I 
was thankful that I was able to go to every place 
where meetings had been arranged, and never missed 
one through ill-health. Though the weather was often 
bitterly cold, and though I wore not even a muffler, 
I never once had a touch of sore throat. A great number 
of congregations — from Cape Breton in the east to 
Lake Huron in the west — were visited, and it was simply 
marvellous to see the kindness of every one. Mrs. 


Robertson was a great deal with me, and we made many 
warm and life-long friends. During our stay in Canada, 
I was able to collect three hundred pounds for the 
support of my teachers, another three hundred pounds 
(in which was included one hundred pounds for making 
a road across the island) for Mission use on Erromanga, 
and four hundred pounds to go to the fund for a new 
(steamer) Dayspring. This last was at once, of course, 
handed to the Committee of my Church, and the money 
still lies at fixed deposit in a Halifax bank. Altogether 
a sum of one thousand pounds was given, and of it, I 
think, the money subscribed for teachers was particularly 
helpful. Before this time we had had no regular 
Canadian fund from which to pay our teachers. The 
parents of a young lady who belonged to Rev. Dr. Steel's 
congregation in Sydney, after her death, had put aside 
the sum of one hundred pounds for the Erromangan 
Mission. The interest of this was given every year 
to support a teacher. It was a great help to us now to 
have a large sum subscribed by kind friends in Canada, 
who, for many years after, bore the support of our 
teachers, until the Erromangans were able to support 

Perhaps one of my most interesting visits was that to 
Alberton, Prince Edward's Island, where the relatives 
of the martyred Gordons lived. I had the pleasure 
of meeting two of their brothers, one of whom was an 
elder in the church, and I was able to tell them a great 
deal that was of sacred interest to them. They were, 
both of them, tall, splendidly built men ; for the Gordons 
were a handsome family. They were interested in see- 
ing my little boy, Gordon, called after the martyrs, and 
they gave us a very warm welcome to their homes. 
It was a pleasure, indeed, to be able to tell them and 
other friends in Alberton how greatly God was now 


blessing the labours of the noble men who had laid 
down their lives for Christ's sake on far Erromanga. 

As I have said, Mrs. Robertson was often with me 
when going through Canada, but, during all the time 
we were there, our children were under the kind and 
loving care of their grandmother, Mrs. Dawson, at Little 
Harbour. It was a comfort, indeed, to know that they 
were in so good hands when we were away from them. 
But time sped on, and at the last we felt very keenly 
the parting with our dear ones at home. After a good- 
bye visit to Avondale, we left Little Harbour in a 
" snow flurry " one winter morning. As far as New 
Glasgow, we had with us Mrs. Robertson's two sisters 
and two of my brothers ; Mrs. Robertson's youngest 
sister. Miss Dawson, was also with us for some time 
longer, which made the travelling much pleasanter for us. 
At Truro we were, of course, with Dr. and Mrs. M'Cul- 
loch and their family, with whom Mrs. Robertson felt 
parting almost as keenly as with her own mother. We 
then went to Amherst, Monckton, and St. John, where 
we spent the New Year week, and then to Montreal 
by way of Boston. When in Boston we had the 
pleasure of getting to see over Longfellow's house, 
perhaps in rather a questionable way, as some persons 
may say. With a few friends we first interviewed the 
housekeeper. " The family are away," she said, " and I 
have strict orders to give no one admission." " But," 
I said, " we will soon be leaving America, and do not 
know when we may have this chance again." " It would 
be strictly against orders ; I can't do it," she answered. 
" Oh, well ! I am very sorry," I said; "/«;« the Bishop 
of Erromanga!^ " Oh, I beg your pardon, sir," she said ; 
" will you come right in } " I stepped aside to let the 
ladies go first, but all insisted that " the bishop " should 
lead the way. We were taken into Longfellow's study. 


saw his manuscripts and other things of interest, sat 
in his favourite chair, and Mrs. Robertson brought away 
a fern leaf as a memento of the place. But it was a 
sore trial to me to go through it all, and see the look 
of respect on that honest housekeeper's face, and hear 
those tiresome people behind me calling me " bishop " 
at every turn. I breathed freely when we got safely 
outside again, and were able to indulge in the luxury of 
a hearty laugh. Of course I, like other Presbyterian 
ministers, claim to be a Bishop of the primitive sort, " an 
overseer " of a flock. 

We had only intended staying in Montreal for a few 
days. We were to leave in the beginning of the follow- 
ing week, and on the Sunday I was able to give two 
or three addresses, speaking in the Erskine Street Church 
at night. We were the guests of our warm friends 
the Rev. R. H. (now Dr.) and Mrs. Warden, and on 
Monday morning Mrs. Robertson went out to say good- 
bye to some friends. The cold was intense (twelve 
degrees below zero), and she caught a severe cold which 
developed into pleurisy. She thought at first that it 
was island fever — a bad attack of it — and when I came 
home that evening she told me it was nothing but that. 
During the night, she got rapidly worse and a doctor 
was sent for. He at once suspected what the trouble 
was, and very soon told us that it was pleurisy. For 
nine days my wife lay at death's door, but by our loving 
Father's blessing on the skill of Drs. Rogers and Ross 
and the tender nursing of Mrs. Warden, she then rallied. 
We feel that we can never repay the marvellous kind- 
ness of Dr. and Mrs. Warden during that anxious time 
— they were true, true friends. Mrs. Warden would 
allow no one but herself to wait on Mrs. Robertson, 
and, though she must often have been worn out, she 


was always the brightest and most tender-hearted of 

We left Montreal on the ist of February, 1885, Mrs. 
Robertson having been taken out the day before in a 
sleigh to see if she could stand the cold. I tell her 
now that we have to thank her illness for giving us the 
chance of being present during the gay Winter Carnival 
there, and of seeing the famous Ice Palace of Montreal 
and the tobogganing.^ It was built of huge blocks of 
ice cut out of the St. Lawrence River, and brilliantly 
lighted with electric light. On the night of the " storm- 
ing," it was attacked with great rockets by a party of 
five hundred, and, of course, bravely defended. When 
the attackers had been driven off, they retired in perfect 
order. It was a most picturesque thing to see the five 
hundred snow-shoers, in their white blanket-suits and 
each carrying a lighted torch, winding up Mount Royal. 
At Samia we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Thomas 
Nesbit, manager of the Commercial Bank there, and a 
son of the late Dr. Nesbit, of Samoa. After eight days 
spent in San Francisco, we left for Sydney in the 
steamship Australia, Captain Ghest. We arrived in 
Sydney on the 12th of March, being welcomed on the 
steamer's deck by Captain Braithwaite and the Rev. 
A. W. Murray, who had returned from the islands in 
very ill-health, and who died in New South Wales not 
long after this. Captain Braithwaite gave us the news 
of Atnelo's death, but on the whole his account of Erro- 
manga was very encouraging. We were eager to get 
back to our people again after our long absence, and 
were glad when we were able to leave Sydney on the 
1st of April, though we had the sorrow of parting from 
our three dear children, for we took only our youngest 
back with us. But we were leaving them in good hands 
— the two little g^ls with the Rev. S. and Mrs. Ella 


and their daughters at Petersham, and their brother at 
a boys' school near. And Gordon was left also under 
the special care of our dear friends Mr. and Mrs. Ander- 
son,^ who had proved such a father and mother to 
him in his baby days. 

We had a pleasant trip in the Dayspring, our fellow- 
passengers being the Rev. J. H. and Mrs. Lawrie, re- 
turning to Aneityum, and the Rev. Charles and Mrs. 
Murray on their way to Ambrim. I had written to 
the teachers from Canada, telling them that we should 
be back about the 25th of April. Of course, after that, 
they expected us on the 25th, not a day earlier or later, 
and very fortunately we did not disappoint them. We 
had been at Weasisi, on Tanna, that morning. It was 
raining heavily ; so only Mr. Murray and I landed, and 
had a hurried visit to Mr. and Mrs. Gray. Mr. Eyre, 
the first officer, followed us on shore with a message from 
Captain Braithwaite, saying that if we went back at once 
to the ship then, he would do his best to land us at Dil- 
lon's Bay that evening. So we left, but when we were 
off Bunkil, on the south of Erromanga, we were in a dead 
calm, and were almost giving up hope of getting to 
Dillon's Bay that day. However, our good captain 
ordered the boats to be put in the water, and after a 
time with hard pulling and a little breeze that sprang up, 
greatly to our joy, we rounded the south point, the 
" Steps " of Dillon's Bay. We soon caught sight of 
the Martyrs' Memorial Church, and our own house, 
nestling among the cocoanut trees, and people running 
hither and thither in great excitement. They rushed 
to the boat-house, and, after unlocking the gate, seemed 
to change their minds, and ran away again. We found 
out later on that, as it was a Saturday, a number of the 
stronger men were away at their gardens, and those 
who were left could not have managed to carry the 


boat down to the water. However, very soon numbers 
of men came running down, and, shortly after we 
anchored, the boat shot out of the river mouth ; Usuo, 
Noragu, Lilea, Nangerevit and a number of others were 
in her, and all gave us the warmest of welcomes. It 
was just about sunset then. We afterwards learned that 
Naiyup, who, after Atnelo's death had been appointed 
as the Dillon's Bay teacher, was just starting to another 
village to hold a short service when Owang, who was 
in disgrace at the time, called out to him : " A nice thing 
for you — the teacher — to be going away and Misi com- 
ing along there in the Dayspring ". Naiyup turned, 
and, sure enough, there was the ship just in sight at the 
point. Owang rose in his own and everybody else's 
estimation, as having been the first to see us. He 
promised to try and do better, and so at our home-coming 
we were glad to be able to bring him back to the village 

With Mr. and Mrs. Murray we were soon on shore, 
and were very much touched by the warm and heart-felt 
welcome our dear Erromangans gave us. They seemed 
as if they could not do enough for us. We were 
charmed with the neatness and cleanliness of all the 
Mission premises. Dear old Ohai, who had been left 
in charge, had everything in perfect order ; even the 
very pins that Mrs. Robertson had left on her dressing- 
table had been carefully rolled up in paper. A small 
slate that used to hang in my medicine room, and on 
which I marked down anything that the natives wanted, 
was still there with some writing done two and 
a half years before. Ohai had kept it just as it was ; 
for though she could not read a word herself she had a 
profound reverence for writing of any kind. She came 
down to meet us, her face all aglow with pleasure, and 
soon took charge of our three-year-old " baby," hugging 


the child as if she would never let her go. Watata, too, 
had proved very faithful during our absence, and the 
church, our house, and the boat were painted so thickly 
that the flies and ourselves stuck to them! 

Mr. Annand had supplied Captain Braithwaite with 
the money for paying the teachers, and after all had 
been well paid there was a balance of sixteen pounds. 
I had left forty teachers, and found forty-four at work 
when I came back. Yomot and Atnelo (up to the time 
of his death) and other teachers had written to me regu- 
larly, and they had in every way acted nobly. We 
found everything in a very encouraging condition ; the 
work had gone forward, and many new converts had 
been won to Christ. Captain Braithwaite had called 
regularly in the Dayspring, and had been a good friend 
to our people. Mr. Mackenzie and Mr. Annand had 
the management of my stations during my absence. 
Yomot sent word to them that a few couples were wait- 
ing to be married, and as at the time neither Mr. 
Mackenzie nor Mr. Annand could visit Erromanga, Cap- 
tain Braithwaite was commissioned to tie the knots. 
The captain was very much interested in the " job," but, 
unfortunately, after getting the marriage service off by 
heart and everything in readiness, he, too, was unable 
to call at the island. The next trip Mr. Mackenzie was 
on board, and married the waiting brides and bride- 

By the Tuesday after our arrival, hundreds of people 
had gathered in from Ifwa, Cook's Bay, Portinia Bay, 
Bunkil and Il-Efate. Presents of food and pigs — no 
less than twenty-seven of them — were given to us. We 
gave seven very large ones to the Dayspring, and a 
number of the others were killed for the banqueting 
that was going on day after day. The very generous 
gift of the people was a complete surprise to us ; they 


[Page 415. 


[Page 4!Jti. 


had been fattening up the pigs for months — some of 
them so fat that they were ahnost blind — and, as Yomot 
said, each person had " given of his own free will, eagerly, 
and as a token of his love ". 

In July I dispensed the Sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper at Dillon's Bay. We had a large gathering, and 
met in a large, beautifully thatched " church " that At- 
nelo had built just before his death and specially for 
this occasion, as he knew the Martyrs' Church would 
not be big enough. We brought back with us from 
Sydney a fine horse and a cart. The cart was, I fancy, 
the first in the New Hebrides. Both were a gift to the 
Mission from our people, and cost fifty-five pounds, the 
money being got from the sale of their arrowroot. Mr. 
Gordon's old horse " Bessie " was dead, and the new 
one, " Dolly," proved a splendid help. A httle later I 
bought another horse for Mrs. Robertson's use. The 
money had been given to her at home for that purpose, 
and it was a great convenience, while we had them, to 
have the use of two horses. 

As soon as possible, we began the big work of making 
a road right across from Dillon's Bay to Port Nariven. 
My first idea was to make it ten feet broad, but, after 
some miles of this, we saw that it would need a fortune 
to keep it open. Those who have lived in these islands 
know how rapidly everything grows, and how hard it 
is to keep even the ground near our houses clear of 
shrubs, for they grow just hke weeds. Of course, a 
great number of men and women were kept on that 
work, and what with food and payment, it seemed as if 
the money for the road would soon be gone. So we 
decided to content ourselves with a well-cut bridle- 
track right across the island. It is about twenty-five 
miles in length, and broad enough for all the uses we 
have ever had. It is now used constantly, and is kept 


open by the people themselves, being thoroughly cleared 
every year. 

During our stay in Glasgow, I had a most generous 
proposal from Mr. H. Barnett. He offered to take 
charge of all the arrowroot that the Erromangans could 
make, and to find a sale for it in Scotland and elsewhere. 
Needless to say, I accepted very gratefully his generous 
help ; for up to that time we had not always found 
it easy to dispose of the arrowroot ; and the year we 
went home we took it with us to Canada. Since our 
return to Erromanga in 1885 up to the present time, 
Mr. Bamett has taken all this work upon himself. 
Every year all the arrowroot is packed in casks and 
shipped to Glasgow, and from the time it reaches him 
Mr. Barnett is never idle a moment until every pound 
is disposed of. Through his untiring efforts, his friends 
and others have got to know and like the arrowroot, and 
we and our people owe this true friend a deep debt of 
gratitude for all he has done and is still doing for 

The bulb of the arrowroot plant is gathered when 
ripe^ that is in the winter months, and, when a sufficient 
quantity is ready, the bulbs are then thoroughly washed. 
At Dillon's Bay it is always carried up the river some 
distance and washed in the running water of the stream. 
The bulbs vary in size, but resemble a potato both in size 
and appearance, being of a dull brown colour. It is 
generally the women who wash the bulbs and scrape 
off the outer skin. Of course, none but perfectly healthy 
people are allowed to assist in this work, and these are 
careful to don their cleanest and simplest garments. 
When the bulb is washed and ready for grating, it looks 
more than ever like a round potato. All are laid on 
clean leaves, and now the labour of the men begins. 
At the other villages tin graters are used ; but at 


Dillon's Bay we are advanced enough to have a machine 
for the purpose. After it is all grated, water is poured 
over it, and the whole well strained through cloths. By 
the time all this is done it is generally pretty late in the 
day, and the arrowroot is left covered up in the tubs 
for the night. The next morning, the sediment having 
sunk to the bottom of the tubs, the water is clear and 
is poured off. The arrowroot is again washed and 
strained through the cloths, and this process is repeated 
perhaps three or four times more, until it is perfectly 
white and clean. The men then carry all the tubs down 
to the Mission premises. Then arrowroot sheets, made 
of washed, unbleached calico, are laid on the smooth 
grass near the church or on the clean gravel square in 
front of it, and the arrowroot is cut out in pieces from 
the tubs and spread on these to dry. Two or three men 
are always at hand to break it up into smaller pieces as 
it dries. If the weather is fine and sunny, all should 
be thoroughly dry in a few days, and ready for sifting. 
If too dry, it will not sift so well as when almost dry. 
After the drying is over, it is again laid out in the sun, 
and, after a second sifting, is ready to be put in bags. 
We make it up into 3 lb., 5 lb., 7 lb. and 10 lb. bags, 
and these are packed in strong, hard-wood casks for 
shipment. The largest quantity made in one season on 
Erromanga was 5,000 lb. ; the last shipment was 
3,000 lb. The money which the sale of the arrow- 
root realises is used to defray the cost of printing the 
books of Scripture in Erromangan and for other Mission 
purposes, such as the fifty-five pounds given for the horse 
and cart, and the purchase of corrugated iron for the 
Dillon's Bay and Port Nariven houses. During our stay 
in Canada, I had one thousand copies of the Gospels of 
Matthew and Mark printed, and in 1890, in Sydney, 
copies of the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles 


in one book. I have just made arrangements with the 
British and Foreign Bible Society for the printing of 
three thousand copies of the New Testament. The 
Erromangans have already paid over to the Society 
an instalment of one hundred and fifty pounds towards 
defraying the cost of the printing, and another instal- 
ment of, perhaps, one hundred pounds, from the sale 
of the last shipment of arrowroot will, I hope, shortly 
follow this. 

For the last four or five years our people have made 
a special share of arrowroot, the proceeds of which go 
to the Teachers' Fund on the island. They now entirely 
support their own teachers, agreeing that the Canadian 
Church, which has helped them for so many years, 
should not be asked to do so any more. The Erro- 
mangans are not a rich people ; they have very scanty 
means of making money, and so it seemed only right 
that a portion of the arrowroot profits should go to this 
object In one year ;£^ioo was collected in the different 
villages to help to support the teachers, but they are 
not always able to do so well in money. A few years 
ago, I began taking a marriage fee of ten shilhngs, 
which was to go to help the Teachers' Fund. To my 
delight the idea " took," and, though no one is compelled 
to give, there is scarcely a bridegroom who is not eager 
to give something, and most of them manage to raise 
the ten shillings. Although not exactly "off their 
heads with joy," they are generally in the best of 
humours on. their wedding day, and think nothing of 
the fee. At one marriage, after the bridegroom had 
handed me his money, I was taken aback by the bride 
shoving five shillings into my hand. She would not 
hear of taking it back ; so I came to the conclusion that 
she was well satisfied with her bargain. In 1899, I 


was able to hand over £^ 6s. 6d. of marriage fees to the 
Teachers' Salary Fund. 

I have been trying to reduce the number of teachers 
on the island during the last few years. The population 
is decreasing sadly, and we are urging the people to 
come more into the central villages where they can be 
easily reached ; and in that way one teacher could over- 
take the work that was formerly done by two or three. 
At present the number stands at about twenty, and all 
are working well. Our Erromangans are not so willing 
to go to help as Teachers on other islands now as we 
should like, but at present we have several couples 
assisting missionaries elsewhere, and these, I am glad to 
say, seem to be giving every satisfaction. 

The rapid decrease of the population has just been men- 
tioned. At the last census, taken in 1894, when I went 
right round the island on foot, the number, not counting 
those on hire in Queensland or other places, stood at 
1,500, and in these last few years I know even this small 
population has sadly lessened. Without doubt the 
strongest factor in the depopulation of this island, has 
been the Queensland labour traffic.^ In the first part 
of our life on Erromanga, when there were no regula- 
tions for it, the labour trciffic for Queensland, and especi- 
ally for Fiji, was little else than a slave trade. For- 
tunately this state of things has passed away. We 
never have any but the Queensland ships now, and as 
far as their regulations go, they — the regulations — could 
scarcely be improved. Each vessel carries a Government 
agent, and from what we have seen and heard, natives 
" recruiting " are treated with every kindness, and are 
well cared for. Both captains and Government agents 
have, in nearly every instance, treated us with the ut- 
most courtesy, and, as friends, they are always welcome 
in our home. As far as I know and I mention this with 


the greatest of pleasure, no person in any Queensland 
labour ship has ever given or sold liquor to an Erro- 
mangan. But that which is in itself bad cannot be regu- 
lated, and I have no hesitation in saying that this labour 
traffic has been a curse^ and nothing but a curse to our 
island. Boys and men, from fourteen years old to forty, 
the pick of the people, are taken away in large numbers, 
and very few of these ever return. In 1896, two ships 
took away from Portinia Bay alone, the one thirty-nine 
and the other eleven young men, and altogether in that 
district a hundred men and boys were taken away. 
Three schools had to be closed. No more harm can be 
done in that bay now until the boys have time to grow 
up. The most revolting part of the " recruiting," to my 
mind, is the practice of giving money as an engagement 
fee. Of course, this money is not given him as pay, it is 
handed to the man who is intending to ship to do as 
he likes with it, but as a matter of fact, in nearly every 
instance, he at once passes it to his nearest relation, 
and it is looked upon as pay or compensation for his 
leaving. In cases where the man has not given up this 
money I have had complaints that " So-and-so left, and 
no nipmi, ' pay,' was given to his friends by the people 
in the ship ". This has a distinctly bad effect, and is 
one of the worst features of the traffic. In Queensland 
the recruits are well treated, and speak kindly of their 
masters. Christian ladies and gentlemen there take 
the deepest interest in them, and classes are conducted 
regularly for their instruction. There is no doubt that, 
on the whole, they are very comfortable both in the 
ships and on the sugar plantations in Queensland, but 
the climate is very much against them ; they belong to 
a weak race and easily succumb to disease. And I 
repeat that, though those in the traffic have often proved 
themselves not only gentlemen but friends, the traffic 


itself has been against us and our work from the very 
beginning, and is a dark, dark blot on the colony of 

The year after our return from Canada an old man 
named Nokesam, accompanied by a few friends, un- 
armed, made a visit right round the island. He was an 
ignorant man, but a sincere Christian, and was eager to 
speak of his Saviour to the heathen. His visit, the fact 
that he and his party took no weapons and showed such 
confidence in every one, did a great deal of good. About 
this time, we were disappointed in one of the northern 
villages, and had to withdraw our teacher, Molep. Mo- 
lep and his wife, Nuferuvi, had been settled there for 
some time, and seemed to be getting on well with the 
chief, Nokilian, and his people. We were pleased with 
Nokilian's eagerness and his kindness to Molep, but 
after a time he took a longing for another taste of 
heathenism, and listened to the chiefs around him who 
were urging him to give up the school. So one bright 
morning he set fire to the schoolhouse, and, to put us off 
the scent, to a little old hut of his own. Any fool can 
light a conflagration, but it needs some work to stop one ; 
and, much to poor Nokilian's dismay, the flames spread 
to the teacher's house and to a large siman-lo where he 
had two guns and a box. By the time he called help, 
it was almost too late to save anything ; but Molep man- 
aged to get out all the arrowroot that had been stored 
in his house, and the tubs, too, though these were badly 
damaged. Nokilian was in great distress about his loss, 
but we at once suspected that he was at the root of the 
mischief. He blamed the heathen ; they had, he said, 
burnt the buildings in anger, and wanted to drive his 
teacher away from him. I sent word that, if he really 
wanted the Gospel and was willing to give up something 


for it, he should bring his wife and all his belongings 
to Dillon's Bay ; they would be made welcome there, 
and would be away from the influence of his heathen 
friends. As I expected, he did not come. I saw it 
would not do to leave the teacher there, and so sent 
the boat to bring back Molep and his wife. We found 
that Nuferuvi, just before leaving, tried once again to 
persuade Nokilian's young wife to go with her to 
Dillon's Bay, telling her how sheltered she would be 
there and how she would be able to worship without 
fear. But the chief's wife, I am afraid, had no longing 
for that, and answered Nuferuvi with a quick " No ! 
Dillon's Bay," she said, " is an open country, and all go 
there, but my spirit has ever dwelt in the wild woods" 

We purposed to build a small one-roomed cottage 
about ten miles north of Dillon's Bay, at Fui, near the 
village of Naliniwe, the old chief ; we could easily go 
there by boat and often spend a week or two with the 
people of that district. And the house was to be built 
on the hill, and thus it would be a real change to us if 
we should happen to be in ill-health. Our people very 
generously gave the money for the building out of their 
arrowroot fund, and helped us much in putting it up. 
Old Naliniwe was delighted that we should think of 
going to live near him, and whenever we were there he 
and his wives loaded us with kindness. He was a dear 
old man, simple as a child, and yet no fool. Shortly 
before his death, he was admitte^d as a member of the 
Church on condition that he should give up his second 
wife. He promised faithfully to do so, but the poor 
man found it very hard to comply, and we never could 
find out whether she had really left him or not. When- 
ever we saw Naliniwe she was always " just going ". 
His was the only case where we admitted a man before 
he gave up the second wife, but after all I was not sorry 


for doing it, and we knew that he died a true Christian 
and fully trusting in his Saviour. While building the 
house at Fui, I one day sent Netai with others to Mrs. 
Robertson at Dillon's Bay, and as I knew she had not 
been well, bade him tell her that she was on no account 
to let anybody bother her by wanting to barter. Netai 
agreed. He saw Mrs. Robertson, gave her my letter, 
in which I had forgotten to mention this, kept her busy 
the whole morning bartering, and then when he went 
to say good-bye he added, " I was to tell you, Misis, 
that you must not think of working too hard, and if 
any one comes wanting to sell yam, you must just say 
' No '." He smiled most sympathetically, too, as he 
said it ! 

In 1887 Mr. and Mrs. Annand, who had returned from 
their visit to Canada,^ arrived in the islands. While at 
home Mr. Annand had nobly offered to go to the large 
island of Santo, and leave Aneityum where he had been 
so long. Santo had always had a warm place in the 
hearts of the Canadian people, and the fact that Mr. 
and Mrs. Annand were so generously offering to open 
up a new station on that large island had a cheering 
effect on them. A very warm interest was taken in 
their plans, and they came back to their work followed 
by the prayers and good wishes of many in the Do- 
minion. Three new missionaries had arrived from 
Scotland — the Revs. A. Morton, T. Watt Leggatt and 
J. D. Landels ; the two former being chosen to repre- 
sent the Church of Victoria, and Mr. Landels the Church 
of New South Wales. They reached the islands in 
November of 1886, too late in the year to be settled 
anywhere by our Synod, so that the four settlements took 
place during the winter of the following year. As there 
was likely to be so much work to do, the Dayspring 


Board chartered the Cairndhu, a vessel of i6o tons, to 
help the Dayspring that year. The Dayspring arrived 
at Erromanga first. We had almost decided not to go 
to the Synod, which was to be held in the north that 
year, but on learning of the Cairndhu^ we arranged to 
wait for her. I was very busy at the time making a 
cellar under our house, and could not leave the work 
till it was finished. Four days afterwards the vessel 
arrived, and we were pleased to see Mr. Eyre, the chief 
officer of the Dayspring, as captain. He was a general 
favourite ; always so kind and obliging, and, what was 
still better, a sincere Christian. We picked up Mr. 
Mackenzie and his son Norman at Erakor, Mrs. Robert- 
son preferring to stay with Mrs. Mackenzie until our 
return. We reached Ambrim before the Dayspring, and 
on her arrival the Synod was held. Mr. Morton and 
Mr. Leggatt were appointed to Malekula, Mr. Watt to 
help in their settlement ; Mr. Landels was appointed to 
Malo, and with Mr. Annand, Mr. Mackenzie, Mr. Eraser 
and myself was to go to his station in the Cairndhu. 
We soon arrived at Malo, and the people seemed de- 
lighted to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Landels. Land was 
at once bought and cleared, and the work of building 
begun. The boat went once to the small island of 
Tangoa, off the mainland of Santo, and it seemed such 
a suitable spot for a Mission station that Mr. Annand 
wished, if possible, to build his house there. We were 
to have had the ship's boat to go again, but before we 
could carry out our plan there came the unfortunate 
wreck of the Cairndhu on the reef off Malo. All the 
cargo was saved, but the ship was a total wreck. The 
chief officer, with a native crew, at once offered to go 
south to tell the captain of the Dayspring. They met 
that ship at Malekula, and, as soon as he was able to 
leave, Captain Braithwaite came north to Captain 


Eyre's assistance. Before his arrival Mr. Annand re- 
solved to take some of the timber for his house over to 
Tangoa. He himself built a raft, and the loading was 
towed on this behind the boat. In two days the ground 
had been bought and cleared, the foundation of the 
house built, and a rough road made to the shore. We 
were all charmed with the picturesque site of the house. 
The Mission station at Tangoa is very pretty, with the 
grass on each side of the house sloping right down to 
the water's edge, and large trees dotted here and there 
and giving a delightful shade. We stayed at Tangoa 
for six days after the arrival of the Dayspring, and the 
house-building went well ahead. When we returned to 
Malo to pick up the ship-wrecked crew, the Cairndhu 
was sold at auction. Arriving at Tongoa,'' we found Mr 
Mackenzie's boat there. Mrs. Mackenzie and Mrs. 
Robertson had heard of the wreck soon after it hap- 
pened, but having no particulars about it were very 
anxious. Fortunately, they soon heard from Captain 
Wylie, R.N., of the safety of all on board, and some of 
Mr. Mackenzie's strongest young men offering to go and 
meet us and take us news from Erakor, Mrs. Mackenzie 
willingly agreed, only bargaining that they should run 
into no danger. It was thus an unexpected pleasure for 
us to get letters at Tongoa, and Mr. Mackenzie was de- 
lighted with the heartiness of his natives. Mr. Michel- 
sen had wisely insisted that they should go no further 
north. When we reached Havannah Harbour of Efate, 
on our way south, it was arranged that we should stay 
all night on shore, and the boy Norman was promptly 
put to bed. Mr. Mackenzie and I went for a stroll on 
the shore ; it was a charming evening, with a light wind, 
and we must have been both struck with the same 
thought at that moment, for just as I was going to speak, 


Mr. Mackenzie said, " What do you think of rousing 
the men, and going in the boat to Erakor ? " 

" Splendid ! " I said ; " but what about Norman ? " 

" Oh ! that will be all right ; I will soon wake him," 
said the unsympathetic father. In a very short time we 
were ready, Norman staggering up, rubbing his eyes ; 
and, saying good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Macdonald, our 
hosts, we were off. The wind dropped soon after we left, 
and so we had to pull all the way ; but we had a good 
crew, and by daylight were in the beautiful lagoon at 
Erakor. The Dayspring arrived that same day, and 
we were glad, after our long absence, to be landed at 
Dillon's Bay again. 

About this time a number of people began to come 
regularly to the schools. Usuo was a great help to us 
now, and was very soon made a teacher. The Sufa 
people still held out, but some began to get more 
friendly, and several, among them old Novwai, attended 
school now and again, though they were never regular 
in coming. Novwai had a niece, or, as he called her, a 
daughter, named Naimpin, whom Mrs. Robertson took 
into the house for training. The old man was passing 
one day, and happened to see Naimpin. He held out 
his hand, and then rather hesitatingly said : " Kik-e-pau^ 
ku kemnavan ra feranda ? ' my love to you ' (that is, 
how do you do ?), ' do you walk on the verandah ? ' " 
of course, meaning that, perhaps, she thought herself 
too much above him since she came to live with us. 

In was in 1886, shortly before the arrival of the new 
missionaries, that a determined plot was made to take 
our lives. We thought that we had had the last of this 
kind of thing, and never dreamed of danger. It was at 
a feast at Unepang that the proposal was mooted ; the 
heathen saw the rapid advance that Christianity was 
making ; their power was slipping away, and they de- 


termined to make a last desperate effort. We heard 
nothing of all this ; for, knowing how they had failed 
in their previous plots, all was kept very quiet. The 
plan was to kill my wife, our children and myself, and, 
as in the former plots, then all the teachers. One night, 
about ten o'clock, Mrs. Robertson was just going to bed 
in a room that is now our dining-room, and has two 
windows on each side of it. She had been some time in 
the room when she noticed that the blind on one of 
the windows was not properly drawn. Just as she went 
to pull it down, she saw, to her horror, a dark face peer- 
ing up at her — the face of a man crouching just below 
on the outside. She said she was so taken aback and 
alarmed that she sprang right back to the centre of 
the room, and in a moment had called to me in as quiet 
and controlled a voice as she could manage. I was 
developing photographs in a room near, and, feeling 
sure my wife had seen a rat or something equally harm- 
less, I laughed back to her. When, in another second or 
so, I heard her say, " There is a man under the window," 
it did not take me long to reach the room. He had 
disappeared from his hiding-place, and I was for going 
at once out, but my wife would not hear of it. Then 
I took the big dinner-bell, and, going to the door of 
my medicine-room, rang it very loudly. Immediately 
men came hurrying down ; as they ran, they tied their 
bows to be in readiness, and all had some weapon, for 
they guessed that something serious had happened. 
Below the window of the room they found the foot- 
prints of tzvo men, and the next day tracked these 
through our garden and the church grounds right down 
to the shore at Umpon-lu. There a canoe had evidently 
been lying, and had not long been taken away. Our 
people were furious, and the would-be murderers would 
have fared badly had they fallen into their hands that 


night. All agreed that one pair of footsteps belonged 
to Novwai Namri, of Sufa. Some men were despatched 
to his village to find out about this. Novwai was nowhere 
to be seen, but a woman there, told our men that, with a 
friend, he had left Sufa the evening before in a canoe, 
saying that he was going to Unepang. We never found 
out who the second man was, probably he was a 
southerner, but we had no doubt that old Novwai 
Namri, who had professed the greatest friendliness 
for us, was the first, though nothing could be proved 
against him. They knew that I often worked at night, 
developing photographs, and that I might be opening 
the door to throw out water, and no doubt they laid their 
plans accordingly. When they saw the light in Mrs. 
Robertson's room, they probably slipped along there to 
see if that would be a handier place to enter. This was 
the last attempt ever made on Erromanga to take our 
lives. The " Martyr Isle," I think we may truly say, 
has been won for Christ, and though there are still a 
few scattered heathen, we trust and pray that they, too, 
may soon give their hearts to Him. Though during the 
last ten years or so there has not been the excitement 
and, perhaps, the cheer of the earlier years, the work is 
going on just the same, and though quiet, is, I believe, 
lasting. The steady upbuilding of our Erromangan 
Church, that is the duty that now lies before us and our 

Meantime the work on the other islands has gone 
on apace. When our second Dayspring became too 
small and slow for the increasing wants of the Mission 
she was sold, and, in 1890, the Mission made arrange- 
ments for a steam service from Sydney, giving a stated 
sum to a Sydney Company to do the work. The 
steamer Dayspring, built by Messrs. Mackie and Thom- 


son, of Govan on the Clyde — the money raised for the 
purpose being collected by Dr. Paton — did our work 
during part of 1896, but, being wrecked on a reef off 
New Caledonia in October of that year, it was de- 
cided at the meeting of Synod that we should give up 
the idea of having another steamer built to take her 

The maritime work of the Mission is at present done 
by Messrs. Burns, Philp & Co., of Sydney, the s.s. Mam- 
bare, 1,218 tons, being the New Hebrides boat. 

Some time ago I asked Mr. Wallis Tanner, then 
Island Manager for the Company, if he would give me a 
short account of the state of trade in the group, and he 
kindly sent the following figures, at the same time say- 
ing that " The information is only approximate ; it is 
almost impossible to obtain figures that are perfectly 
reliable, but from my knowledge of the different estates 
and the amount of business which has been done through 
my Company, I think the figures given are as near as it 
is possible to obtain ". 



General Merchandise — British _£'i2,ooo 

„ „ French ..... 6,000 

Total . . ;^i8,ooo 

Coal, 800 tons ........ _£'i,2oo 

Timber ......... 400 


Bananas, 36,000 bunches ..•••• ;^6oo 

Maize, 4,000 sacks 1,250 

Copra, 2,000 tons 16,000 

Coffee, 130 tons ........ 6,000 

Beche-de-mer, 4 tons ....... 400 

The market price of nearly all exports during 1898 was considerably 


lower than previous years ; the figures given are low approximates, rather 
than high. 

Plantations, 36. — French companies hold the largest ; the value is hard 
to arrive at ; allowing 10 per cent, profit made during the year on the 
output, the value would be about ;i^25,ooo; there are a number of expen- 
sive buildings on the property which would probably increase the value 
in the owners' estimation ; employees number 24 white, and 180 coloured. 

F. Chevillard's plantation, valued at . . . . ;^8,ooo 

R. Stuart's plantation, valued at .... 10,500 

Glissan and Wardlaw plantation, valued at . . 8,000 

Roche Bros, plantation, valued at . ... 8,000 

The other thirty average about ;£'r,ooo each. 

Total value of plantations, ;^89,5oo. Coloured labour employed in all 
about 600. 

The French companies work coffee-cleaning machinery by kerosene 
engine, the other plantations by hand-gear. 

The number of residents in the group, as compiled by F. Chevillard 
and myself, is : British 126, French 160, Foreign 42. Total 328. 



Steam— British, 1 . 

. 800 tons Sailing — British, 7 . 

. 140 tons 

„ French, i . 

. 400 tons „ French, 5 

. 139 tons 

British employ in all 20 men of white crew, 36 of black crew. 

French employ in all 18 men of white crew, 36 of black crew. 

During the year the British had on an average another steamer of 
1,200 tons running, employing 18 white and 8 coloured crew. 

The French also had a steamer of goo tons, employing 14 white and 
8 coloured crew. 

Value of ships now running, £16,200. 

The following are the approximate statistics for the 
year 1900 : — 

Approximate British and French Imports, Exports, etc., for 
THE Year 1900. 




General Merchandise . 
Coal, 500 tons, value . 

;f 20,000 

Imports — 

General Merchandise 



No statis- 
tics ob- 




Exports — 

Bananas,io,ooo bnchs., 

value about gd. a 

bunch . . . ;C375 

Maize, 10,000 sacks, 

value about 8s. per 

sack . . . 4.000 

Copra, 1, 500 tons, value, 

average £8 per ton . 12,000 
Coffee, 40 tons, value 

about £40 per ton . 1,600 

Sundry produce, about 

50 tons, say . . 1,000 

Population — 

British residents ^ • i?^ 

Vessels — 

Steam, 2— tonnage 1,998 tons. 
Sailing, 9— tonnage 228 tons. 
Crews — steam, 42 whites, 26 

blacks; sailing, 18 whites, 40 


Exports — 

Bananas, 5,000 bnchs., 

value about gd. a 

bunch . . . £187 los. 
Maize, 5,000 sacks, 

value about 8s. per 

Copra, 500 tons, value, 

average £'6 per ton . 
Coffee, 120 tons, value 

about £40 per ton . 
Sundry produce . 




Population — 

French residents. 


Vessels — 

Steam, 2 — tonnage 600 tons. 
Sailing (over 10 tons), 2 — tonnage 

160 tons. 
Crews — steam, 12 whites, 40 

blacks ; sailing, 3 whites, 20 


So far as to the statistics of the trade of the New 

In conclusion, I have to thank Bishop Wilson, of the 
Melanesian Mission, for the following interesting account 
of their work in the New Hebrides; for three of the 
northern islands are worked by the English Church 

" The Melanesian Mission was founded in 1 849 by 
Bishop Selwyn, of New Zealand. His scheme of work 
was to raise up gradually a band of native teachers, who 
should be the missionaries to their people. For this 
purpose a mission school was founded near Auckland, 
and afterwards, in order to be nearer the islands, at 
Norfolk Island, and here boys and girls were brought 
from the New Hebrides, Banks, Torres, Santa Cruz and 

» This number includes all foreign nationalities except the French, 


Solomon Islands, and kept and taught for eight or nine 
years, when they returned to their own islands or those 
of others. The story of Patteson is well known. From 
1855 to 1 87 1, he went in and out amongst the islands, 
laying down his life in the Santa Cruz group in 1871. 

" The death of the Bishop in the early days of the 
Mission was a blow from which, for the time, it reeled. 
The natives were ready to believe that work would now 
cease. However, George Sarawia and other native 
teachers went about reassuring the people, saying, " This 
is the work of God, and therefore it cannot fail ". There 
were barely four hundred native Christians when Patte- 
son died in 1871. There are now 13,000, and many 
more heathen, who are touched by Christianity and are 
attending the schools and services of the Church, and 
are following to some extent the teachings of Christ. 

" John Richardson Selwyn, the son of the first Bishop, 
succeeded Patteson in 1877, and retired owing to sick- 
ness and lameness in 1 091. In his time, the Nukapa 
and Santa Cruz natives were visited and made friends 
with. Schools were established in Santa Cruz and the 
Torres Islands, and Florida, one of the worst of the 
head-hunting islands of the Solomon group, was won to 
Christianity. In this last island there are now 5,000 
Christians. Mr. Woodford, the Deputy Commissioner 
for the Solomons, has taken up his residence there, and 
the island is likely to become a centre of civilisation 
and focus of light for the Solomons. A central training 
school was established at Siotu in 1895. Here Dr. 
Welchman has a dispensary, and at an early date will 
also have an hospital. The Rev. R. B. Comins or Dr. 
Welchman is in constant residence at this centre. The 
other Mission stations are visited by the white clergy 
during six or seven months of the year, and are then 
left to the native clergy and teachers in the hope that 


thus a native church, independent of ourselves, will be 
built up. 

" The Banks group (nine islands) is perhaps the scene 
of the Mission's greatest success, but since 1891 a change 
has come over the three New Hebrides Islands (Aurora, 
Lepers' Island and Pentecost) which the Mission works. 
Patteson found the people less inclined to receive the 
new teaching than the Banks Islanders. Until 1891 
progress was slow, but each year now sees new villages 
accepting the ' teaching ' and begging for teachers. 
There are now twenty-six schools and sixty teachers 
in Pentecost ; nineteen schools and thirty-four teachers 
on Lepers' Island ; and nine schools and twenty-eight 
teachers on Aurora. Of an estimated population of 
13,000 in these three islands, 2,000 are attending schools. 
" Yours very truly, 

"Cecil Wilson, 

" Bishop of Melanesia." 

Our own Presbyterian Mission has, on Ambrim, a 
well-built hospital for the accommodation of both white 
and black patients. This was commenced in 1893 by 
Dr. Lamb, the missionary of the New Zealand Church, 
and, since his retirement in ill-health in 1898, Dr. John 
T. Bowie has had the superintendence of the work. 
The hospital has been a great boon to many already, 
and we feel sure will be even more so in the future. 

The Training Institute for the instruction of native 
teachers was opened on the 18th March, 1895, with seven 
pupils. The Rev. J. Annand, M.A., D.D., the mission- 
ary of our Canadian Church, is the Principal. In 1898, 
the number of students had risen to sixty-three. They 
stay four years and are then sent back to their mis- 
sionaries to do work on their own islands or others. 
To-day we have twenty-five European missionaries, 


occupying nearly all the islands between Aneityum 
south and Santo north, and from ten to twelve European 
assistants, two native pastors, about four hundred native 
teachers, and, perhaps, three thousand Church members. 
Portions of Scripture have been translated and printed 
in all the different languages, while the complete New 
Testament has been printed in Efatese, Aniwan, and 
one dialect of Tanna, and the entire Bible in Aneit- 
yumese. By means of missionary effort life and pro- 
perty are comparatively safe over the whole group. 
Eight branches of the Presbyterian Church are repre- 
sented in the Mission, and the work done by all their 
missionaries is a faithful and lasting one. 

In view of all this extension, this rapid and encourag- 
ing success of our Mission, the Churches have every 
reason to go forward with redoubled energy and to 
press on with earnest and constant prayer to God for 
His blessing, till all shall receive the truth in the love 
of it. 

As Churches and as a Mission, as well as individual 
missionaries, we shall meet with difficulties and disap- 
pointments. But success is already assured, and we 
cannot — dare not — doubt the final success. " They that 
go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless 
return bringing their sheaves with them." " As truly as 
I live, the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of 

In the strength of God, let us therefore go forward 
doing our duty faithfully, not only here but wherever He 
has called us to work, so that we may soon see the 
kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our 
Lord and of His Christ. 


IS" These notes are intended to explain some things in the text which 
could not well be explained there without interrupting the narrative. As 
the same thing is sometimes mentioned in different chapters, I have 
repeated the reference wherever it is necessary to do so. 



' Numpun-Norowo : " the head of Norowo " ; Numpun-Neraipau, " the 
head of Neraipau ". 

^ Lo-itnateman : " the kingdom of men ". 

' In a bamboo. — In India and other tropical countries, where it grows 
to a great height and some thickness, the bamboo is put to many useful 
purposes when cut down. As it is one of the Grasses, its stalk grows in 
jointed sections and is hollow throughout, except at the joints. If one 
of these sections is sawn through and the joint left at one end of it, the 
section becomes a long but narrow water bucket ; if the piece sawn off 
contains three or four sections and the inside portion of the upper joints 
is punched out, the bucket will hold a considerable quantity of water ; if 
all the joints are punched out, the bamboo becomes a water-pipe. 

* Their behaviour. — As appears further on, they regarded him as a god 
or spirit-being come to visit them. Such a belief is common among the 
dark races on their first contact with white men. The Samoans still call 
all foreigners papdlaiigi, which is said to mean " bursting through the 
sky ". 


1 Yellow men. — Rotumah is a small island to the north of the Fiji 
group. The natives are not exactly " yellow " men, for they belong to 
the brown Polynesian stock ; but native languages in their rude stage do 
not often distinguish the grades of colour. 

2 Rev. Dr. Steel. — See note 14, chap, iv., and note 6, chap. v. 

^ Navilah.— These are stones, large and small, of peculiar shape or 



origin, in \shich some supernatural power is supposed to reside because 
of their connection with a spirit or spirits ; the Samoans would call them 
"mana" stones. Our natives of Australia carry small stones of that 
kind on their persons to protect them from evil. 

••Rev. Dr. Turner. — That was the Rev. George Turner, LL.D. (author 
o{ Samoa a HnuJred Years Ago, etc.), who laboured so long as a mission- 
ary in the South Seas. 

* Weather-boarded houses. — See note 3, chap. xvi. 

^ Trial and danger. — For a full account of this time of peril, refer to 
Dr. Paton's Autobiography, vol. i., chap, x., of sixth edition. 

^Loyalty Group. — A dependency of the French colony of New Cale- 
donia. See map of the South-West Pacific. 

^ Red ochre. — Among our Australian tribes that is in great request for 
the decoration of the bodies of the men on public occasions, such as the 
karabari or native dance, which, however, is of a semi-religious nature. 
Wherever a deposit of that earth is known to exist, a tribe will send 
messengers to it for hundreds of miles, even through hostile territory, to 
get a supply. 

* Lifu is one of the islands of the Loyalty group, on the east coast of 
New Caledonia, and Sandwich Island is Efate of the New Hebrides. 

i*The people of Santo are much milder in their disposition than those 
of the southern New Hebrides ; but often the attitude of native tribes 
everywhere towards white visitors is influenced by the kind of experience 
they had of the white men who first came to them. 

^1 The brown Polynesians are the inhabitants of all the islands in the 
Pacific eastwards from Fiji. They are often called Malays, but they are 
in no respect Malays. 

12" Mothers." — -Uncivilised tribes and nations have not specialised 
their words of relationship. A man calls his mother's sister his mother, 
but the one who gave him birth is his ' own mother '. So also an uncle 
is caWedfathtr. 

1^" Property." — See note 5, chap. iv. 

^* Dayspriiig. — See note i, chap. v. 

1'" Misi " — so much used in the New Hebrides — was originally a con- 
traction for " missionary," and was addressed by the natives to him only. 
It is generally used in that way still, but when they find some other 
Englishman's name hard for them to pronounce, they say Misi to him, 
only however when he is a man whom they honour and respect ; if they 
do not, they call him merely " white man ". Hence " MJsi " is some- 
times used now for our Mr., and " Misis " for Mrs. 

16 1< Pair complexion." — From his Polynesian blood. 

"" Labour men." — See note 7, chap. xiii. 



' " Teachers." — See note 6, chap. iv. 

^Camdrn. — See note 2, chap. iv. 

' Shell. — This is the great conch shell used as a trumpet for alarm 
and for war. 

*" Feast." — These feasts of heathen lands are essentially religious, 
and had their origin in connection with sacrifice. I am of opinion that 
cannibalism originated among those peoples that offered human sacrifices; 
the worshippers partake of the thing oftered. An annual feast, such as 
the one referred to in this chapter and place, is usually in honour of some 
great god. The Australian tribes held one such for Ba-ye-mai, their great 

In Erromanga, these sacred feasts are called nisekar, and are often 
mentioned in the succeeding chapters of this volume. 

^" The Bush." — A colonial phrase to mean all the timbered parts of 
the country, not yet cleared. 

® " They have nothing"; that is, "they are unarmed"; nindevavn 
means "of no account," " only children ". 

"• Nobii is " a god " — one of the great spirits whom the natives 
reverence or fear. 

'' They called in " only ". — This is a native expression to mean that 
they had come in " merely " as visitors to look around, with no intention 
to do wrong. 

" " Isle of Pines." — At the south end of New Caledonia. 

^""Mulua." — A missionary station of the L. M. Society in Samoa 
where there is a college for the training of native teachers. 

11 " Mare and Lifu." — Of the Loyalty Islands. See note 9, chap. ii. 


^ The Rev. James Bayne, afterwards Dr. Bayne, was at this time 
Convener of the Foreign Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Church 
of Nova Scotia, and continued to be so till his death about the year 

^yohn Williams. — The London Missionary Society has now had fotir 
vessels, each bearing the name of yohn Williams, and employed in visiting 
their many stations on the islands of the South Seas, and conveying 
missionaries and stores. The first John Williams was the brig Camden, 
which took Messrs. Williams and Harris to Erromanga. In memory of 
them, she was afterwards called the yohn Williams. She was wTecked 
on the reef at Niu6 or Savage Island in 1864, as stated in this volume, 
and her successor on the same reef in 1866. A new vessel was then built, 
and when she too was wrecked, the present John Williams was built, 


but with "auxiliary steam," to avoid the risks and dangers experienced 
in the past. 

•* Geddie and Inglis. See chap. v. 

* jfohti Knox. — Until a year or two ago, the Mission Synod of the 
New Hebrides has been obliged to maintain a mission vessel to bring 
supplies of various kinds from Sydney to the mission stations on the 
various islands, to carry missionaries and teachers to the islands or stations 
to which they were appointed, to bring the missionaries from these 
stations to the place of the Annual Meeting of the Synod, and to carry 
them back to their homes when the Meeting was over, besides other 
incidental services which a large work on such a group of islands always 
imposes. In the early times the mission vessel came to Sydney once a 
year, and carried back stores and the post-office mails to the missionaries 
once a year. Occasionally, an opportunity might occur of sending the 
mails by a stray trading vessel or by one of H.M.'s ships of war; but 
these means were always uncertain. At the present day, the develop- 
ment of the islands solely through the work of the mission is such that a 
steamship company of Sydney sends a steamer of over i,ooo tons every 
second month to the islands of the New Hebrides, and the trade of these 
islands is increasing so rapidly that the company purposes shortly to lay 
on a steamer every month. That is entirely a commercial enterprise, and 
the business men in Sydney who are making gain in this way have 
Christian missions to thank for these gains ; for the Christianising of the 
natives has made trade possible and safe. 

The very first mission craft was a big boat of only a few tons ; her 
name was the Columbia. The next, called the jfohn Knox, was built in 
Scotland for the mission, and brought to Sydney on the deck of a sailing 
ship. From Sydney a sailor of the yohn Williatns' crew took her to 
Aneityum. She was about twelve tons burden. The first Dayspring 
was 115 tons, the second was 160 tons, and the third was the steamer 
lost off New Caledonia in 1894. 

^ In the Samoan islands, tonga, " native property," included mats, 
native cloths, hooks and lines for fishing, shells, etc. — everything that a 
native looks on as his personal " belongings ". That is the meaning of 
the word " property " in this passage. 

® " Eastern teachers." — These were Samoans and others from Eastern 
Polynesia, who, as the fruits of mission labour there, often volunteered to 
carry the Gospel to heathen islands in Oceania. 

" " Sacred men." — These are the sorcerers or wizards — so well known 
among the Australians and everywhere among the black races — who bring 
evil upon men by the aid of the spirits. See chap. xix. 

* Santa Cruz is an island and group to the north of the New Hebrides. 
** Captain Hedley Vicars. — See Memorials of Captain Hedley Vicars, 

by the author of the Victory Won. London : Jas. Nisbet & Co., 1859. 


'" " Its inroads." — In practice, the heathen, especially those of the black 
race, are fatalists ; to them, any virulent disease comes from the male- 
volence of some god or spirit, and it is useless to strive against it. 

" " Broken up — Mrs. Paton — flight." — For a full account of all these 
painful events, see the Autobiography of Dr. John G. Paten, Missionary 
to the New Hebrides, vol. i., chap. x. London : Hodder & Stoughton, 

^'^Mr. Copeland. — See note 4, chap. xi. 

'^ " Joe and Mana " were two Erromangans who, when heathen lads, 
had been taken by the jfohn Williams to Samoa some years before this 
time. In Samoa they had come under the influence of the Gospel, and, 
on their return to the New Hebrides, Dr. Geddie baptised them as the 
" first-fruits " of Erromanga. 

" See The New Hebrides and Christian Missions, by Rev. Robt. Steel, 
Ph.D. London, 1880. Dr. Steel was the well-known minister of St. 
Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney. 


^ The first Dayspring left Halifax (Nova Scotia) on 7th Nov., 1863, 
for the New Hebrides, calling at the Cape of Good Hope, Melbourne, 
Geelong, and then on to Sydney. She was built in New Glasgow, Nova 
Scotia, by Mr. J. W. Carmichael, and cost about ;^3,ooo. See also Rev. 
Dr. Paton's Autobiography (London: Hodder & Stoughton), mentioned 
in note 11, chap. iv. 

^ William A. Eraser was a Nova-Scotian, and from its famous county 
of Pictou, which has given Sir William Dawson and Principal George 
Monro Grant to science and education, and such men as Geddie, 
Matheson, Grant, Murray, Morton, Mackenzie and Robertson to the 
foreign mission field. Grant and Morton went to Trinidad. 

^ " The children's ship." — For the way in which the children were led 
to an interest in this missionary ship, see Dr. Paton's Autobiography , 
vol. ii., as above. 

* Robert Morgan was his name. The ship's flag bore on it the dove 
as the symbol of the mission. Captain Williams came after Captain Mor- 
gan, and Captain Turpie after him, 

5 Lava-lava is the loin-cloth of the men ; the name is Samoan, and 
was brought to the southern islands of the New Hebrides by the " Eastern 
teachers," mentioned in note 6, chap. iv. The native Erromangan name 
for it is neto-etingi. 

' Rev. Dr. Steel (see note 14, chap, iv.) had at that time no connection 
vnth the New Hebrides Mission, but was a warm friend of foreign 
missions and of all Christian movements for good. When the Presby- 
terian Churches in New South Wales became united, he was for many 


years a useful member of the Dayspring Board in Sydney, and acted 
as agent for the mission. 

' " Storm-rigging." — Houses in these islands are covered with thatch 
of sugar-cane leaf. When the hurricane season of the year is approaching, 
it is necessary to have the thatch held down by heavy poles of timber laid 
along above it and securely fastened down. 

* Lazarus was a mission teacher on Aneityum and himself a native of 
the island. 


^ " Collect money." — See Dr. Paton's Autobiography, chap, iii., vol. ii., 

mentioned in note ii, chap. iv. 

2 "Sunday Schools." — All that is narrated fully in Dr. Paton's book, 
vol. ii. 

•* Rev. James Chalmers.^ — This devoted missionary to the Papuans lost 
his life in the beginning of last year, while visiting for the first time the 
tribes on one of the rivers in the west of British New Guinea. 

* The Rev. William Mclntyre, M.A., came originally from the Western 
Highlands of Scotland, and was settled as minister of the Presbyterian 
Congregation at West Maitland, New South Wales, about the year 1842, 
where he laboured for over twenty years. He was then translated to St. 
George's Church, Sydney. He was well-known for his high character 
and the liberal use he made of his wealth. 

''"Kirk." — The Presbyterian Churches in Canada were at that date not 
yet united. 

^ Lathella's ploughing cattle were given to him by Dr. Geddie's family, 
when the beasts were quite young. 

'' Taro is the arum esctilenttim of botanists, the colocasia antiquorum, 
and may be regarded, in some of its varieties, as the best article of native 
food throughout the South Sea Islands. It is cooked in the native ovens 
which are small pits made in the ground. 


* " Sacred men." — See note 7, chap. iv. 

""High chief." — As in Samoa, so also in some islands of the New 
Hebrides, there are chiefs and high chiefs ; the latter are considered men 
of exalted dignity and cannot be easily approached direct. In Samoa 
there is " chief's " language ; that is, certain words which are good enough 
in ordinary conversation must not be used when you are speaking to a 
chief: etiquette requires you to substitute certain other words for them ; and 
to a high chief still another set of words must be used for common things. 

^ Yomot. —See his history in chap. xvii. 

*Dr. Turner. — See note 4, chap. ii. 


' " Father." — In some of the New Hebrides islands, an uncle is 
addressed as " father ". So also among the Australian tribes. In the 
islands, a child makes a distinction between his "mother" (uncle's wife) 
and " his own mother," who gave him birth. See note 12, chap. ii. 

8 These Santoans are the only people in the New Hebrides who make 
pottery. Quiros found them making it in a.d. 1606. 

■"'Image of the moon." — In Australia the chief of a tribe in the 
settled districts used to wear on his breast a brass plate shaped in the 
form of a crescent moon, given to him by the colonists as a sign of his 


1 The " siman-lo " is a long and lofty erection shaped like the frame of 
a covered waggon, in which cooking is done and feasts are held. It is 
sometimes also the sleeping place of the young men at night — their 
barracks or bachelors' hall ; but the proper sleeping houses for them are 
ridge-roofed, on upright walls. For the siman-lo, see illustration. 

!2" Ifwa." — This incident is a signal proof that a simple act of kindness 
done to a savage is not forgotten. Many of the atrocities done by savages 
are only acts of retaliation for injuries previously received. 

2 " Pundit." —See note 7, chap. xvi. 

* " Bamboo bottles." — See note 3, chap. i. 

*" Rocky paths." — The distance is over twenty-five miles. See map 
of Erromanga, Robertson's Road. 

8 "My pocket Bible." — See the Autobiography, chap, x., vol. i., as 

''" Misi." — See note 14, chap. ii. 

* Yomot. — See his life in chap. xvii. 

^Yarra-Yarra. — This was a strong whale-boat of great use to the 
Erromangan Mission. 

10 1< My own brother." — See note 12, chap. ii. 

" " Feast." — See note 4, chap. iii. 

^2" Shoot them." — Yomot was an excellent shot with the fowling-piece 
and the rifle. See this fact in his life, chap. xvii. 

1^" Branch shining with light." — It is a phosphorescent fungus that 
gives the light. On dark, damp nights these lights shine like fire, and 
the natives pick up bits of old wood covered with this fungus and thereby 
light themselves along the narrow and often dangerous paths. If the 
night is dark but dry, they generally take dry reeds or cocoanut branches, 
tie them up in bundles and use them as torches. When lighted, these 
turn the darkness into a very day for brightness, " and when scores of 
natives are marching along in single file on a bush track, and every fifth 
man or so is carrying one of these brilliant liares of flame, the sight is 


very pleasing to the onlooker and often very fantastic". These fungus 
lights sometimes frighten the natives ; they then think them to be ghosts 
^*Oveteme Unepang. — "Men (of) Unepang." 


^ The Day spring was now going north to collect the missionaries 
and bring them to Aneityum for the Annual Meeting, which was to be held 
there that year. See note 4, chap. iv. 


1 Labour vessel. — See note 7, chap. xiii. 

2" Six pounds." — This is the usual amount of wages iti money given to 
a servant or native teacher on the islands. 

^" With his toes." — I have seen an Australian black lift a straw with 
his toes and thus convey it to his hand. So also he can pick up a small 
spear or other article. This accomplishment is useful in war. 


1 "Misi" is for "missionary" as already explained. It is now some- 
times used for Mr. as a mark of respect. 

2 " In danger " from the operation of the law of revenge — the lex talionis : 
"an eye for an eye". In heathenism, when a man has been killed by 
foul means, his son or avengers seek out and kill the slayer or at least 
some one of the relatives — as satisfaction for the deed of blood. If that 
cannot be done, it is enough to kill some one of the tribe to which the 
slayer belongs. White men were supposed to be members all of the same 
tribe. Hence in the early history of our natives, when a white man had 
at any time caused the death of a black, or done any serious injury, the 
natives took revenge on the next white man that came that way. This 
principle explains many instances of savage hostility on the approach of 
white men. 

3" Ipare" or Ipat seems to be the real native name for the island of 
Tanna ; for tanna or tana only means " land ". 

■* Mr. and Mrs. Paton, the missionaries on the little island of Aniwa, to 
the east of Tanna ; Mr. Paton is the well-known Dr. J. G. Paton. Rev. 
Joseph Copeland was for many years missionary on the little island of 
Futuna near Aniwa; the other is the late Rev. Dr. Steel, of St. Stephen's 
Church, Sydney (see a previous note). 

5 The late Rev. Wm. Wyatt Gill, B.A., LL.D., was for thirty-three 
years a missionary of the London Missionary Society — chiefly at Man- 
gaia in the Hervey group of the South Seas. He was the author of 
Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, Life in the Southern Isles, and 
several other books. 


^ This Memorial Church is shown in one of the illustrations to this 
volume. It was blown down by the great hurricane of the 22nd of 
January of the year 1901. 

■"'I saw Mr. Gordon." — Our natives believe that a man has two 
spirits, the one of which dies with his death, but the other lives on. 
This spirit can leave the body for a time during life in dreams or in a 
trance, and visit persons and things in the unseen world. If it stays 
too long away or cannot find the way back, its owner dies. 

**" Charms and sacred stones." — These are of the same kind as the 
" greegrees " of the African. They are used in the rites of sorcery 
and for protection against witchcraft. 


^ " A sacred man," that is, a sorcerer, a " medicine man ". 

2 "Shouting." — The natives seem to be unable to get on without 
this. Sometimes, when twenty or thirty of them are carrying a big 
log, a chief will seat himself aloft on it, and, by his example, help them 
to shout well and in good time. 

^ " Taro " ; this is the arum esculentum so commonly used as a prime 
article of diet in the South Sea Islands. Some places produce a better 
quality of it than others. Taro and yams are tuberous food-roots like 
pumpkins or potatoes, and are cooked by baking, or rather steaming, in 
the native oven, which oven is a big round hole dug in the ground 
having its bottom lined with hard stones. These are made hot by kindling 
billetwood on the top of them. When they are sufficiently hot, the ashes 
are raked off. A layer of damp grass is laid on the stones, and on that 
the food to be cooked ; even a whole pig can be cooked at once. Then 
above that another layer of grass or leaves is placed, and on it some 
more food, and so on till the oven is filled. It is then covered all over 
with earth and ashes, and left so for some hours. When the cook cries 
" the oven is uncovered," that is an intimation to all that the dinner is 

* " Native puddings " are not like those on our tables. They are very 
palatable concoctions of pieces of taro with grated kernel of cocoanut or 
the like, and are put in strong leaves and baked in the native oven. See 
chap. xix. 

^" Fan " is an epithet of anything choice and good. 

6 " Anotlier wife sent him." — A great man gets a present of a woman 
from one who admires h"m, as a mark of honour and respect. 

^ " Remain only." — See a previous note for the native use of this word 
only. The " only " is sometimes equivalent to " alone ", 



' " Pigs, fowls, fish, taro, yams." — These, with bread-fruit and bananas, 
are the staple articles of food in the Melanesian and Polynesian regions. 
For "taro and yams," see note 3, chap. xii. 

^" Siman-lo." — The cook-house; see a previous note. 

^ The Jiam, that is, " the word," the word of the Gospel, Christianity. 
The brown Polynesians call it the lotu, " the religion ". 

■• and ^ Tampoli is " native cabbage," and dau is " banana leaves ". 

8 " Mrs. Lawrie." — The wife of one of the missionaries then on the 
group. Mr. Lawrie is now minister of a Presbyterian Church in 

■^ " The labour-vessel." — The growing of the sugar-cane is a valuable 
ndustry in Fiji and Queensland, the tropical climate there being favour- 
able to its growth and to the making of sugar. But white men do not 
bear well the necessary work in the cane fields in the hot sun, or at least 
do not seem to care to undertake the work ; hence it is done mostly by 
coolies from India and kanakas from Melanesia and Polynesia. Kanaka, 
or tangata, is a Polynesian word for " a man " or " men ". The demand 
for kanakas to work in the sugar plantations for wages led some ship- 
owners to employ their vessels in getting labourers from the New 
Hebrides and other groups in the Pacific and carrying them to Queens- 
land to be hired. The State of Queensland has now a very stringent 
law to regulate this traffic, but twenty years ago, and until that humane 
law was enacted, these "labour-vessels" were, many of them, "black- 
birders," that is, they caught and trapped black men, and sometimes 
women, wherever they could find them. The cruelties and murders 
perpetrated on many of the islands by this trade are still sad memories 
to the natives. It is said that even now labour men, ingenious in de- 
ceiving, can succeed in evading the law. But the recent legislation of 
the Australian Commonwealth is likely to abolish kanaka labour in a few 

8"Misi is here". — A quiet testimony to the effects of Christian 

** Nate, nate, means " father, father " — a call for help. 

1" " To the native mind." — See note 2, chap. xi. 


1 " Sleep." — The blacks of Australia throw off any clothing they may 
have and sleep thus around the camp fire. 

2 The Day spring in those days used to come to Sydney in the end 
of the year, and lie in the harbour at anchor, and leave again in April after 
the hurricane season at the islands was over. 


'" Six months."— The usual length of time between the departure of 
the mission vessel and her return. 

*" Arrow-root bulbs." — The missionaries have encouraged the natives 
to cultivate the arrow-root plant, and to grate down the bulbs and prepare 
the product for market by washing it to the requisite whiteness. The 
flour is then packed in casks and sent to Australia and Britain for sale. In 
this way the native Christians have contributed many hundreds of pounds 
sterling for the printing of the Scriptures in their own languages. 

^"Perfect gentleman." — Many natives of Australia, Melanesia and 
Polynesia are thorough gentlemen in their bearing and demeanour. 
They have dignity, courtesy, and perfect self-possession, 

^Siman-lo. — The cooking-house; see previous notes. 

"< Nisekar. — These were the religious feasts of the heathen people 
here. " The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." 

^" Bamboo." —See note 3, chap. i. 

8" He was afraid." — The experience of Dr. Livingstone in Africa and 
of travellers in other black countries shows how frightsome to the natives 
at first is the appearance of a white man. The blacks seem to regard him 
as a malevolent resurrected ghost who has influence with the spirit- 
powers who work for evil to men. 

'""His pay." — Such a cruel trick as that could not be done now un- 
challenged, if the kanaka were able to make complaint in the proper 
quarter. The pay to such a black labourer in Queensland is from six to 
twelve pounds per annum with his keep ; and at the close of his engage- 
ment, three or five years, he is sent back to his own island with a 
comfortable sum of money in his pocket. 

11 " The oven was opened." — See note 3, chap. xii. 

'-" Her late husband." — The law among the Australian blacks is that 
the widow becomes the property of his next brother or nearest male 

1""' Sisters to give you." — A common way of barter for marriage. 

w " Deep down." — Anger and other passions — mild as well as fierce 
ones — were supposed to have their seat in the belly ; hence the origin of 
such words as the Latin stomachari, 

''"Remain only." — That is, to continue as he was. For the Erro- 
mangan use of this expression, see note 8, chap, iii., and note 7, chap. xii. 


' " Indifferently." — In Australia this coldness of demeanour is part of 
the native etiquette. When a boy returns to his parents' home after a 
long absence, he sits down at some distance and looks around him 
apparently without concern ; then, after perhaps ten minutes of this, he 
rises up and rushes into their arms with loud emotion on their part and his. 


'" Mr. James Anderson " was an Aherdonian by birth, and well known 
to all Presbyterians in Sydney for his own fine character and his connection 
with St. Stephen's Church. He was an office-bearer there for the long 
period of forty years (Deacon, 1858-62; thereafter Elder). He died in 
August, 1898. He and his wife always showed a lively interest in the 
New Hebrides Mission and the missionaries. 

3" A feast." — A nisckar. See note 7, chap, xiv., and note 4, chap. iii. 

*Siman-ld. — The cooking-house. See note i, chap. viii. 


* and 2 " Dr. Steel and Dr. Gill." — See previous notes 4 and 5, chap. xi. 
3" Weather-boarded." — Here and further on in this chapter occur 

several expressions which are in common use in this part of the world, 
but may not be intelligible elsewhere without some explanation: (i) 
•' Weather-boarded " house. — Such a house has its frame-work of timber 
studding. Then flooring boards are sawn in the mill diagonally along 
their length, so as to have a thick edge below and a very thin edge above. 
These are nailed on the studs outside in horizontal tiers, the thick edge of 
the tier higher up overlapping a little the thin edge of the tier below to 
keep out the weather. That is called weather-boarding. (2) " Blue 
gum." — That is one of the best varieties of the well-known Australian 
eucalyptus tree. They are all called gum trees from their exudation ot 
a resinous gum, and blue, white, spotted, etc., from the colour of their 
bark. (3) " To gammon " is to talk with exaggerations, to feign, to make 
pretences with the intention of deceiving others. 

■*" A sham fight." — Among the Australian tribes, the Bora ceremonies, 
which are part of their religion, close with a sham fight in which the 
newly initiated young men take part. 

*" Memorial Church." — With this compare the church built in the 
compound at Cawnpore, and similar memorials elsewhere. 

* " Is." — Alas ! we must now say was ; for the Church was wrecked by 
the hurricane of January, 1901. 

■^ Pundit. — Throughout the islands of the South Seas, a native well 
skilled in his own language, who helps the missionaries in translations 
and otherwise, is called a. pundit by them. 

8 " In Queensland." — He had gone as a kanaka or coloured labourer 
to work in the sugar plantations in Queensland. See note 7, chap. xiii. 

8 "No gammon." — See note 3, above. 

1"" Broke their word." — A native expression for disobedience. 


1" His swag." — This colonial expression means the rolled-up blanket — 
sometimes called, in Australia, his " bluey " — and a few other things, 


which a " tramp " carries with him in the "bush " when he is in search of 

2" To Fiji." — That is, to work in the sugar plantations there. 

3 " To take the word." — That is, to become Ciaristians. The Samoans 
call it lotu, " the worship," but loto, " the heart," as the seat of the affec- 
tions, seems to be a different word. 

* " Cry." — That is the wail for the dead. It is the tangi of the 
Samoans ; the conclamatio of the Romans ; the keening of the Irish ; the 
" minstrels and people making a noise " of Matthew ix. 23 ; " them that 
wept and wailed greatly " of Mark v. 38. 


^ " Sacred stones." — See note 8, chap. xi. " Flying-fox " is the colonial 
name for a large fruit-eating bat. Its head resembles a fox's on a small scale. 

2 " Men on horseback." — Aboriginal art in Australia makes similar 
essays, often grotesque. 

' " Aniwa (i = ee) and Futuna." — The language and population of 
these two islands are of the brown Polynesian variety — of the same race 
as the Samoans and Maories. 


^Navilah. — A few years ago, in the interests of science, an Australian 
coral-boring expedition went from Sydney to Funa-futi, a small atoll 
island to the north of Fiji. One day a native produced a small iron wheel 
which had been left there some time before. From its shape and qualities, 
he had come to think there was "mana'^ or supernatural power in it, and 
so had buried it in the ground at the roots of a cocoanut tree to give 
fertility. Any stone of peculiar shape or properties the Polynesians easily 
regard as having mana. 

Some of the Erromangan navilah stones are quite circular and like a 
ring or wheel. Such also were some of the symbols of Baal and 
Astoreth, the deities of productiveness, the Sun and the Moon, in the 
ancient Syrian world. A sacredness also belonged to the "ring-stones' 
found in Celtic lands, and the circular aperture in them had sacred uses. 

^" Crawl." — The Celtic ring-stones were used in that way. 

^ " Wail." — This is the death-wail. See note 4, chap. xvii. 

* " Boys." — The kava drink must have in its origin been connected with 
the worship of the gods. Various facts about it suggest this. In Samoa, 
long ago, only young virgins were allowed to do the preparatory chewing 
of the rootlets. 

^" Naming." — The plurality of wives is answerable for the perplexities 
of " mother-right " and " father-right " in the Australian tribes, and the 
naming of children in the New Hebrides. 


'"Planks." — Surf-swimming is a loved pastime of boys and girls in 
all the South Sea Islands. Where there is a coral reef, they go out on it 
and sport there for hours like young seals. 

'"Mourners." — See note 4, chap. xvii. 

8" Funeral feast." — With this compare the funeral games and feasts 
of the ancient Greeks and Romans. 

"Food, hair, etc. — These are a universal medium of sorcery in 
Australia, New Guinea and elsewhere among the black races. 

10 11 Plural." — The plural of majesty is a figure which was not invented 
by civilised races. In Samoa, even when a chief is travelling alone, 
you address him in the dual : Where are you (two) going ? for a chief 
is supposed to be always accompanied by a henchman or an attendant. 

^1 " Red, white," etc. — In Scotland, especially m the fisher villages 
occupied by only a few families, such additions to the name and surname 
are very common and necessary. 


^"Our visit." — As the climate of the islands seriously affects the 
health of many Europeans, missionaries get one year's furlough for 
every ten years' residence. 

^2 " Tobogganing." — To those who have not seen a Canadian winter 
and its sports, it will be impossible to convey by words a sense of the 
pleasure and excitement which lie in the use of the toboggan. 

^" Mr. and Mrs. Anderson." — See a previous note about them. 

''" Labour traffic." — See a previous note about it. 

^" Visit to Canada." — See note i, above. 

''" Tangoa" is a small island in the north New Hebrides, but another, 
called Tongoa, is further south. 


^ 1 



By Alexr. Morrison, Esq., LL.D., Government Botanist, 
Perth, Western Australia. 

Dear Mr. Robertson, 

The task you have entrusted to me, to give an account of 
some of the natural features of Erromanga and of the islands of the New 
Hebrides in general, is one for which I am very poorly qualitied, either 
by extent of knowledge or practical experience on the islands ; but I am 
somewhat re-assured by the consideration that that particular group of 
islands has not as yet been very fully described, and that a statement of 
some of the facts observed during a trip made in the winter of 1896 may 
stimulate those who are interested in these islands to acquire a better 
understanding of their natural features. 

The New Hebrides are situated, roughly speaking, between the i5th° 
and 2oth° of south latitude, corresponding in that respect with the 
coast of North Queensland, from which they are separated by some 20° 
of longitude. Being within the tropics, therefore, and in the midst of 
the Pacific Ocean, they are subject to the trade winds, and their climate 
is warm and humid, with a wet summer and a dry winter, the latter 
season being tolerably cool on the more southerly islands of the group. 

The islands, from a geological point of view, are composed of coral 
and volcanic rocks, in most instances mixed up together, but with the 
former apparently predominating in extent. In sailing round the group, 
we are struck with a certain difference between the aspect of the islands 
as seen from the east and as seen from the west. On the west and north 
sides the mountain ridges are to a larger extent " bald," or bare except 
as regards grassy vegetation, while on the east arboreal vegetation is 
more prevalent. This difference would appear to be due to the action of 
the south-east trade winds which, while making anchorage for shipping 
less secure on the east coast, carry with them copious supplies of mois- 
ture, and give rise to more luxuriant vegetation there. On the west 
coast of Santo numerous remarkably sharp ridges are seen rising abruptly 
29 (449) 


from the sea-line, and separated by deep valleys from the ranges further 
inland. No level ground is visible, and no streams of any size can be 
made out as we sail along, but bare rocks are not to be seen, except 
occasionally at the beach, grass covering the exposed parts of the ranges, 
while trees and shrubs fill the hollows. We sailed up this coast in fine 
bright weather, with none of the sultriness so general in these latitudes ; 
and residents on this part of Santo state that the climate is markedly 
different from that of most other stations on the New Hebrides. This 
characteristic may be accounted for by the absence of the trade winds, 
from which the western side of this large island is sheltered ; and the 
same explanation will hold good for Erromanga and others in the group. 
These regular south-easterly winds, by beating constantly on the coasts 
exposed to their influence, might be expected to cause extensive denu- 
dation of the rocks, washing away much of the softer coral, and so 
exposing the more resistant volcanic rocks which in the course of time 
provide a richer soil ; this explains, together with the larger rainfall, the 
greater luxuriance of the vegetation on those coasts. On the east coast 
of Aneityum massive bluestone rocks are seen, while rounded boulders of 
the same composition are thickly strewn over the beach, and also in the 
beds of the rivers in the interior of the island. Between Port Nariven 
and Potnuma on the east of Erromanga, again, we saw beds of volcanic 
rock or lava on the beach, sloping gently to the sea, while the sand or 
gravel was blackish or dark grey, and there was no appearance of coral 
at the locality. The effects of denudation are visible at the south-west 
extremity of Aoba, as shewn by the presence of outlying masses of rock, 
sometimes mushroom-shaped. 

On landing at the mouth of the Williams* River, which falls into the 
ocean at Dillon's Bay on the west coast of Erromanga, we observe ample 
evidence of the two forces that have contributed to the formation of this 
as of the other islands of the New Hebrides group. On the beach we 
see a number of great masses of coral rock several yards in diameter, 
lying isolated as if tossed there by some gigantic force, and hard and 
splintery as if silicified. At the same spot, the beach is formed almost 
exclusively of rounded pebbles and boulders almost all of volcanic origin, 
and showing the greatest variety in composition, grain and colour. Fur- 
ther up the valley in which the river flows, are seen boulders in profusion, 
and these, as well as the precipices of coral formation bordering the 
valley to a height of about 400 feet above the river bed, point to former 
volcanic disturbances of great violence. Although no active volcanoes 
exist on Erromanga, earthquakes are sometimes severe, as might be ex- 
pected from the presence at no very great distance of the never-ceasing 
crater of Tanna to the south and, on the north, of the lofty cone of 
Lopevi, and the smoking peak on Ambrim, which are both subject to 
occasional outbursts. Evidence of recent volcanic action at Erromanga, 


however, has been found at the south-east of the island, in an alteration 
of the depth of the sea between the shore at Traitors' Head and a small 
island off the coast, as ascertained by the officers of a surveying ship ; 
and in agreement with the observation thus made, the natives there give 
an account of fire having once broken out at that spot. 

Though the Williams' River is periodically converted into a rushing 
torrent after heavy rain, the sides of its narrow valley are so precipitous 
that the action of the stream itself can hardly have been the sole factor 
in its formation. To judge from the almost vertical precipices on its 
north side, it seems more likely that a rent caused by volcanic action 
opened a channel for the outflow of the waters from the higher levels of 
the tableland and the hills to the south, from which the river takes its 
origin. The greater part of the island consists of tableland, with a num- 
ber of peaks situated mostly to the south of a line between Dillon's Bay 
on the west coast and the mountain, Traitors' Head, or Warantop of the 
natives, on the east. In crossing the island on that line, we found the 
tableland reached to nearly i,ooo feet above sea-level at the highest part 
traversed, while Traitors' Head, the highest peak on the island, was found 
by aneroid measurement to be about 2,750 feet above high-water mark. 

It is a striking feature of the tableland that it is not exactly a flat 
plain, for though the path along which we walk is on the whole tolerably 
level, we pass numerous depressions of considerable area and depth, but 
quite different in their nature from valleys. The ground falls away rather 
abruptly from the higher levels into these hollows, which have flat bottoms 
but contain no water either running or stagnant, and there is no outlet, 
as in a valley, for any water that might collect in them. One of these 
depressions, situated near Mount Edwards on the north side of Dillon's 
Bay, shows a central pit of some length, and into it from the sides are 
projected a series of rounded ridges or embankments separated from one 
another by shallow gulleys, while the bottom of the hollow is convex 
without any sign of water. The mode of origin of these hollows is a 
matter for speculation, but they may be accounted for by the supposition 
that great rents had been caused by volcanic action, and afterwards partly 
filled by the falling in of the sides. The porous nature of the soil would 
explain the absence of still waters, and the paucity of lakes and swamps 
on most of the islands of the group may be similarly accounted for. 
Another phenomenon observed in a number of localities serves to indicate 
the destination of the water precipitated in the copious rainfall experienced 
on the islands, namely, the existence of springs of fresh water on the shores 
below high-water mark. Attention may be drawn to them by the sight of 
cows quenching their thirst on the sea-shore when the tide is out ; and we 
may assume that the presence of these springs is not limited to that part 
of the shore between high and low water. At Havannah Harbour, in 
Efate, a strongly running stream of pure water, at which the natives are 


in the habit of doing their washing, is to be seen as we walk along the 
shores and, when followed up, is found to take its rise not many yardi 
from the beach, where, from the bottom of a shallow basin under the 
shade of the trees, numerous streamlets accompanied with air-bells are 
seen rising to the surface, furnishing sufficient water to form a creek with 
a strong and copious flow to the shore. The uplands at Havannah Har- 
bour, to the top of Mount Erskine, are dry, open and well-grassed, but 
the low-lying ground along the coast is always moist, and, according to 
Dr. Macdonald, malarious as well. Though the soil covering the cordl 
rock at this spot is thin and scanty, the moisture present in it ensures a 
most luxuriant growth of vegetation. 

On Erromanga the coral rocks are not so conspicuously shown as on 
some of the other islands of the group, where their mode of formation is 
displayed in a very striking manner in the shape of terraces rising one 
above and behind the other from the coast inland. Some show three 
distinct terraces, as on Hat Island at Havannah Harbour, and on an 
island in the Malo Pass between the islands of Malo and Santo, where 
they are extremely well defined, with a flat top about a third of the total 
length of the island. On Efat^, at Havannah Harbour, the land is com- 
posed of a succession of terraces, of which the peak known as Mount 
Erskine, or Bau-backo (shark's back) of the natives, is the narrowed 
remnant of the highest. The first terrace, crossed on the way inland 
from the harbour, presents a vertical face of over twenty feet on the 
seaward side and in the narrow pass or rift through which we make our 
way from the luxuriantly wooded coastal strip to an open grassy flat 
above. The next terrace is indicated by a prominence visible from the 
mission house, and known to the natives as Korea-menamasok, and 
found to be 820 feet above sea-level. As observed from a boat in the 
harbour, this point is seen to form the end of a prominent terrace 
extending towards the east, where it is nearly as high as the part seen as 
a peak. The third terrace is indicated, as already said, by Mount Erskine 
itself, which is hardly a well-defined mountain (though its small coral peak 
is about 1,230 feet above the sea), being only a little higher than the table- 
land, into which, towards the east, it slopes gradually and almost imper- 

The same triple terrace formation is continued further round the island, 
and is well shown at Undine Bay on the north coast. Here, on walking 
up from the beach, after threading our way in a boat through the narrow 
and crooked passage over the coral reef, we first pass across a terrace of 
no great height, as at Havannah Harbour, then over one of greater height, 
on which is situated Arthursleigh, the residence of Mr Wardlaw, 600 feet 
above sea-level. The coffee plantations lie between this and the next 
terrace, above which, to the tops of the hills, coral rocks are met with, 
though some of the hills, and those the highest, are covered with forest 


vegetation to their summits. On the dome-shaped peak to which the 
ridge above Arthursleigh leads, while volcanic boulders are not absent, 
rocks of coral formation are to be seen, weathered into thin, vertical slabs 
that give out a resonant, metallic sound when kicked or struck with any 
hard substance. The coral rocks, both here on Efate and at Dillon's Bay 
in Erromanga, have a hard and splintery or almost flint-like character, 
acquired probably through the action of volcanic heat. On the path across 
Erromanga, near Dillon's Bay, the ground was seen to be strewn with 
angular fragments of calcareous rock, and the soil at this part was dark in 
colour. Pieces of pure white stone were picked up, showing on the frac- 
tured surface concentric lines as seen in Scotch pebble. Other pieces 
were white, hard and crystalline, and evidently fossiliferous — a white 
marble. Another variety, in the form of a large fragment projecting 
above the surface of the ground, gave a ringing sound when struck, and 
its fracture was yellowish and crystalline. In the bed of the creek first 
crossed were many large volcanic boulders of dark blue colour, and the 
soil in the neighbourhood was observed to be red, while the grass was 
long and luxuriant as compared with that nearer Dillon's Bay. 

To the question, What is the age of the islands of the New Hebrides ? 
it will be safe to reply that, in a geological sense, they are of quite recent 
formation. Some, indeed, are at the present time in the throes of active 
evolution through the action of live volcanoes. The formation of the 
coral reefs under the surface of the ocean by the growth of the living 
polypes goes on very slowly and gradually through long periods of time ; 
but the disruption of the calcareous reefs formed by them ma^ take place 
both rapidly and suddenly. The reefs, which are sometimes of enormous 
thickness, are broken up and elevated far above the surface of the ocean, 
or sunk below their former level ; but all the while the formation of new 
coral by the living polypes goes on at those depths below the surface of 
the ocean suited to their life and continued development. But besides 
breaking up and dislocating the existing rocks, the volcanoes add to the 
bulk of the islands by the emission of streams of lava and the ejection of 
boulders, ashes, etc., which form thick masses overlying or intermixed 
with the coral. By volcanic agency the configuration and size of the 
islands may be rapidly altered, or a gradual and slow elevation or depres- 
sion of the surface of the land may take place, although the additions to 
the mass of the coral formation may be extremely slow and imperceptible. 

As already mentioned, evidence of changes due to volcanic action within 
the memory of those now living have been detected on the east coast 
of Erromanga, and it is not so long ago that at Port Resolution, near the 
active volcano on the east coast of Tanna, an earthquake occurred causing 
the upheaval of the sea-bottom on its northern side, while another portion 
of land near it sank below the level of the sea. The Tanna volcano is 
remarkable for the frequency and regularity of its outbursts one taking 


place every two or three minutes. The most obvious explanation of this 
characteristic is that the immediate cause of the explosions is the inflow 
of water into the molten interior of the volcano, resulting in the genera- 
tion and escape of a large volume of steam ; and if the belief is well- 
founded that the lake in the vicinity is in communication with the cavity 
of the volcano, the explanation will be all the more feasible. Masses of 
solid material are seen to be ejected from the crater at each explosion, and 
dust is deposited at We-a-si-si further north, injuring the crops of the 
native teachers there, according to the Rev. Mr. Watt. That this vol- 
canic dust may be carried much further has been proved in your own 
experience by the fall at Dillon's Bay on the night of 3rd June, 1898, of 
a fine brown dust from the Tanna volcano, a distance of fifty miles, pene- 
trating into every corner of your house during the four hours it continued 
to fall. A strong south wind would be a necessary condition of this 
occurrence, without precedent as it has been during your twenty-six years' 
residence on the island ; but, as you have remarked, that condition has 
been present on numerous occasions without it being associated with a 
shower of dust derived from the volcano. The phenomenon doubtless 
indicates some unusual form of combustion in the bowels of the volcano, 
giving rise to a lighter and more copious ash than usual. The continuous 
activity of the Tanna volcano must result in constant changes in its 
own constitution, though not generally of such importance as to materially 
alter its external appearance. 

The other active volcanoes of the group, if less regular and continuous 
in their outbursts than that of Tanna, are more violent and destructive 
when their occasional eruptions take place, lava flowing down their sides 
into the valleys below, and scorias covering and destroying the vegetation 
all around, while human lives are placed in great jeopardy. Such an 
eruption took place a few years ago on Ambrim, and again on the same 
island within the last few months ; while still more recently the lofty 
and steep cone of Lopevi has been in violent action, placing the in- 
habitants, as at Ambrim, in the greatest danger. Still later, at the end 
of the month of May, 1898, an eruption from the sea-bot-tom took place 
on the north-east side of Tongoa, and was witnessed and reported by 
credible European residents. Every eight, ten, or twelve minutes an 
upheaval of muddy water to a height of ten to thirty feet occurred, and 
stones were thrown up to a greater height, while the noises preceding 
the outburst were similar to those heard before an earthquake, though 
no terrestrial disturbance was in this case perceived. In the Banks' group, 
lying to the north of the New Hebrides, evidences of volcanic formation 
are apparent. In Ureparapara is a bay showing the island to be formed 
evidently of an extinct crater, one side having been removed leaving it 
open to the ocean, while at Vanua Lava, Port Patteson, the best harbour 
in the group, may from its appearance have been a volcanic crater. On 


one of the hills surrounding this harbour white sulphurous vapour is 
observed escaping from a rent in the ground, while the river taking its 
rise from that part is generally found to contain sulphur in its waters, 
which are said to be warm, though on our visit to it, after heavy rain, 
its presence could not be detected. Sulphur in crystals is found here, 
as also in connection with the volcano on Tanna. 

The presence of granite on the islands is doubtful, although on Santo 
its existence is more likely on account of its greater area. At Anamd, 
on the north side of Aneityum a mile or so from the coast, is a very large 
block of stone usually spoken of as granite, and resembling that rock, 
but probably only granitoid and of volcanic origin. Its surface is 
blackened by exposure, and, on the sloping south or shady side, is speckled 
over with a small whitish lichen. The front surface, which is more nearly 
vertical, faces due nort^, is eleven paces in length, and is engraved with 
a large number of curious figures. It is said that the natives have no 
knowledge or tradition regarding the origin of these carvings, except 
that they were there when their forefathers came to the island, about 
600 years ago, as some think. The flat top, nearly seven feet at its 
widest, is also engraved, and there are a few figures too on the south 

While sailing round 4he islands of the New Hebrides, a good oppor- 
tunity is found to study the coast flora, the frequent stoppages of the 
missionary or trading vessel being favourable for this purpose, though 
not as a rule permitting lengthy excursions inland. There is a great 
sameness of coastal vegetation on all the islands of the Pacific, the plants 
composing it being to a large extent common to all, though the flora of 
the interior of one island may differ to an important degree from that of 
others. In this sameness the eastern coast of Australia to some extent 
participates, in as far as it lies within the Tropics, is washed by the 
waters of the Pacific Ocean, and is subject to the influence of the trade 
winds. Hence it is that those who are familiar with the Queensland 
coast, when they travel round the New Hebrides, or other groups of 
islands, are always meeting with well-known plants reminding them of 
Australia. The agencies by which this similarity has been brought 
about are in themselves an interesting study and are various in kind, 
including the transport of fruits and seeds across the intervening areas of 
salt water by the waves and currents, on the feet or in the stomachs of 
birds, and by human intervention in various ways. So far, therefore, 
as the coast flora of the New Hebrides is concerned, it does not differ 
materially from that of other islands, such as the Fiji or Samoan groups, or, 
as regards part of the flora at least, from the north-east coast of Australia. 
With the flora of the interior of the islands, on the other hand, the case 
may be entirely different ; that is to say, instead of the central areas of 
the various islands being inhabited by the same species of plants, one 


may be tenanted by species quite distinct from those ot another island, 
and in that case some of the plants may even be endemic, or existing on 
that island alone and nowhere else. Whether this characteristic exists 
on any of the islands of the New Hebrides group has not yet been fully 
tested, but a preliminary examination of specimens collected during the 
winter of 1896 on Erromanga, Aneityum, and Efate, inclines us to the 
belief that, on these islands at least, the majority of the plants are of 
similar if not identical species with those of other groups in the Pacific 
Ocean and of the eastern coast of Australia. This conclusion may, how- 
ever, not apply to all the islands of the New Hebrides, especially to 
Santo, which from its size is more likely to present a greater variety of 
plants, and perhaps even endemic forms of vegetable life. 

The vegetation of the South Sea Islands is so prolific as to come 
down to high-water mark on the shores, and the pebbly beach, just 
beyond the reach of the waves, is frequently carpeted with white and 
purple-flowered creepers, convolvuluses and pea-blossoms, while trees 
and shrubs, many of them handsome in flowers and foliage, overhang 
the shingle. The mangroves may sometimes be seen as a continuous 
line of shrubs fringing the coast line, sending their roots down into the 
sea-water, and indicating the height to which the tide rises by the lower 
border of their foliage, which is as straight as if clipped, being arrested in 
its growth at that level. The glossy foliage of these trees, and in some 
cases their shapely forms, together with the curious adaptations of their 
flowers and roots to the conditions prevailing on a muddy shore, make 
them an interesting study. Close to the beach also the trees may be seen 
festooned with the twining stems of a convolvulus of robust growth and 
bearing large trumpet-shaped flowers of a pure white colour. At or near 
to the beach are fine trees of the genera Tournefortia, Hernandia, Ter- 
minalia, Gyrocarpus and Calophyllum. The last-named is known as the 
Tamanon, that supplies large logs of timber of superior quality ; and 
mention may be made of the Casuarina, or " she-oak" of Australians, as 
frequently seen growing to a considerable height quite close to the water. 

The lower hills near the coast are generally sparsely clothed with 
vegetation, and this character is still more marked on the tablelands, 
where the landscape is open and breezy, reminding us of Australia, and 
in striking contrast with the close, densely wooded valleys and most of 
the higher hills. In all probability residence there would be free from 
the poison of malaria. The trees are few, and the presence of an acacia, 
frequently met with on the tableland as well as near the coast, enhances 
the resemblance. This tree was seen forty feet high on the Erromangan 
tableland, and is known to the natives there as the Mori ; while on 
Aneityum it bears the name Inmeri, and on Efate Numeri. It yields 
small logs and stakes of great hardness and durability, and it is of this 
wood that the Erromangans make their beautifully finished bows. Shrubs, 


many of them very ornamental, bracken (Gleichenia) and orchids relieve 
the comparative bareness of these localities ; but it is very seldom indeed 
that we meet with any earth or rock actually bare. 

It is in the valleys, however, where a deeper soil and more copious 
moisture exist, that we find the most luxuriant growth of trees and shrubs, 
although on the higher hills the vegetation, if less rank, is perhaps equally 
varied and interesting. The largest trees are seen in the former situation, 
and as we ascend the mountains, which are usually wooded to the top, 
they become less lofty, and on the peaks — between 2,000 and 3,000 feet 
above the sea — they are on an average only about fifteen feet in height. 
At 1,500 feet and upwards we find a wealth of mosses and lichens, luxuri- 
ating in such a copious moisture as would seem to indicate a greater or 
more constant rainfall than occurs on the coast. These lower forms of 
vegetable life grow on the living or fallen trunks more than on the ground, 
clothing and festooning them in a fresh and bright drapery, not green 
alone, for the lichens show enough colour to greatly enhance the beauty 
of the scene. It is on the trees on the hillsides also that we find the 
greater number of the orchids indigenous to the islands. Of these inter- 
esting plants between twenty and thirty species were collected, in flower 
or in seed, and a considerable number of other kinds were seen out of 
flower. If the New Hebridean species are less gorgeous than those of 
some other countries nearer the Equator, they are nevertheless objects of 
great interest, owing to their beautifully coloured, wax-like flowers, and 
the singular shapes assumed by flowers and foliage alike. 

In a walk across Erromanga, such as I had the pleasure of taking 
under your guidance in the latter half of July, i8g6, we were able to note 
all the different phases of the vegetation according to soil, moisture, 
exposure and height above sea-level. Starting from the mouth of the 
Williams' River at Dillon's Bay, we first walk for some distance up 
the valley, making our acquaintance with the dense foliage of tropical 
type, under the close shade of which luxuriate ferns, selaginellas and 
creepers, with scattered plantations of cocoanut palms, bananas, bread-fruit 
and orange trees laden with ripe fruit, and passing the natives busy with 
their yearly labour of arrowroot-making — their voluntary offering towards 
the support of the mission to which they have loyally attached themselves. 
Then ascending a steep, winding path, first used by the early sandalwood 
traders, and since their time improved by your own exertions and con- 
tinued right across the island, we escape the necessity for wading 
laboriously through the coarse cane-grass or tangle of creepers seen to 
right and left of us. After a stiff pull we reach a level higher than the 
great precipices seen from the valley, and shortly we are on the tableland, 
following a path in a general sense level, and avoiding the deep hollows 
now and then passed on the one side or on the other, but necessarily 
dipping down to the lower level of the streams, of which a number have 


to be crossed on our way. Few trees are seen, and these are mostly the 
Mori, till the latter half of the journey is entered upon. Then we obser\e 
that the hollows and the valleys traversed by the creeks, unlike those on 
the western half of the path, are filled with trees and shrubs, although our 
path along the higher parts continues still open and grassy. At length 
the line of march takes us into densely wooded country, and although the 
ascents and descents in crossing the valleys, in which streams of consider- 
able si7e now run, are much steeper and more arduous, the vegetation 
presents a tropical aspect all through, and is more varied as well as more 
extensive in area than that of the narrow valley of the Williams' River. 
While the road, through nearly its whole length, might be passed by a 
vehicle, there are portions of it towards the eastern side of the island that 
would make an ideal carriage drive, arched over and shaded by tall trees 
•with handsome foliage, and decorated here and there with palms, dracaenas, 
climbers and other ornamental plants. The same closely wooded char- 
acter is continued to the village of Arawau, where we stayed for the 
night, and from there down the slopes to the coast at Port Nariven, 
where the mission house stands close to the spot where Captain Cook 
landed when he first discovered the island. Traitors' Head, or Warantop 
of the natives, the high, three-peaked mountain near this spot, was 
ascended by us on a fine, cool day, and like most of the other high 
mountains is so densely wooded from base to summit as to allow few 
chances of a view of the surrounding land and ocean, without our climbing 
to the top of a tree for that purpose. 

Among the many interesting plants met with during this walk across 
Erromanga, special mention may be made of a myrtaceous shrub found in 
full flower on the tableland to the east of Dillon's Bay and also on 
Traitors' Head. It is the Nimram of the natives and a species of Metro- 
sideros, bearing large trusses of bright red flowers, though a yellow- 
flowered variety was found on the ranges near Mount Gordon to the 
south of the bay, and also at Undine Bay, Efat^. This shrub was under 
ten feet in height on the tableland and on the slopes of Traitors' Head, 
as well as on the peak to the south of Mount Gordon, ascended by us 
later on ; but on these two hills, close to their summits, we found it also 
as a robust tree, at the last named locality about fifty feet high, the trunk, 
buttressed with projecting ridges, measuring fifteen feet in circumference 
at five feet from the ground. On Traitor's Head the largest specimen seen 
was noted as four feet in diameter at four feet above the surface, branch- 
ing into limbs of a diameter of two feet and a half downwards ; and this 
exceptional growth was associated in each locality with an abundance of 
the same plant as a moderate-sized shrub. 

On the tableland, also, we saw a shrub of some culinary interest, grow- 
ing plentifully there, but just passing out of its fruit-bearing stage. This 
is a species of Vaccinium, or blaeberry, the fruit of which in your own 


experience has been found a passable substitute for the blueberry of 
Canada in the making of jam and tarts. A ground orchid with fleshy 
roots and a long racune of pale, pinkish flowers was found on the plateau, 
resembling Dipodium punctatum of Australia, and evidently closely allied 
to that species. At the foot of trees in the damp woods a peculiar, pale, 
fungus-like plant was met with, a species of Balanophora, evidently 
parasitic, n the roots of the trees. Near the summit of Traitors' Head 
a small tree belonging to the family Goodeniaceae was found, with hand- 
some foliage and large flowers of a lavender colour. When on a visit to 
Cook's Bay during our stay at Port Nariven, the native women accom- 
panying us brought in the branches and cones of a striking plant belong- 
ing to the Ginger family. This proved to be Tapeinochilus pungens, 
previously recorded only from one or two places in the Malay Archipelago 
and the Pacific coast of Northern Queensland. Though showing some 
differences from those obtained at the latter locality, these were not of 
such importance as to constitute the Erromangan plant a distinct species. 
Another plant, previously thought to be endemic in Queensland and New 
South Wales, was also found on Erromanga, namely, Castanospermum 
australis, the Moreton Bay chestnut, or Ovooleeungkil of the Erromangans ; 
but a similar plant appears also to grow in New Caledonia. Entada 
scandens, the Match-box bean of Queensland, is also common on the 
island, the long pods hanging overhead on " Robertson's Road " and in 
other localities. 

Brief references may now be made to some of the families of plants 
prevailing in the vegetation of the islands of the New Hebrides, and to 
individual forms presenting features of more than usual interest. The 
large and important order of the Legutninosce is well represented, as by 
Canavalia obtusifolia, the creeper on the sea-shores already mentioned ; 
Abrus precatorius, a climber, of which the scarlet and black seeds are 
well known as Paternoster beans ; Erythrina, a tree singular in having 
deciduous leaves, unlike the great majority of tropical plants, and flower- 
ing before the young leaves make their appearance; species also of 
Crotalaria, Tephrosia, Castanospermum, Entada, etc. The genera Caesal- 
pinia and Acacia are also represented, as well as one or more genera allied 
to the latter. The Rutacece include a number of species, most of which 
are found in Australia, including apparently two thought to be exclusively 
Australian ; and a species of wild orange belongs to this order. The 
MalvacecE are common, including Hibiscus, of which six or eight species 
were met with. One of these. Hibiscus tiliaceus, is well known as sup- 
plying the natives with supports for the roofs and doorways of their 
dwellings. This shrub or tree, as it grows on the banks of the streams, 
sends its branches out in a gentle curve so as to overhang the water, and 
when two of these are set up opposite one another a Gothic arch is formed, 
60 that the entrances of the native huts appear as if copied from a Euro- 


pean model, though they were doubtless so ormed long before the Gothic 
style of architecture took its rise. Ih the order Sterculiacca are Heritiera 
littoralis, a coastal tree with large angular nuts, and Commer9onia 
echinata, a small tree with pleasing foliage and flowers, both also 
Australian, Of the Sapindacece a number of shrubs or trees were found, 
including a very ornamental one, apparently that named Lepiderema, 
belonging to New Guinea. Dodonsea viscosa is common on the islands, 
as it is in most other parts of the world, and Cardiospermum Halicaca- 
bum, a pretty twiner, has also a very wide distribution. Only one 
representative of the Rosacea was seen, a species of Rubus or bramble, 
on the summit of Traitors' Head. The Saxifrage order, well known in 
the old country from the pretty herbaceous plants it contains, is repre- 
sented by trees of the genera Geissais and Spiraeanthemum. 

The Myrtacea, so numerous in Australia, include two species of 
Acicalyptus, much resembling Eucalyptus, found on the hills of Aneit- 
yum ; and three species of Eugenia were also got on that island, and 
another on Erromanga. Melastoma malabathricum, a pretty shrub with 
ribbed leaves and large flowers, grows plentifully at Anelcauhat on 
Aneityum, where the flowers are always white, and two others belong- 
ing to the same order, the Melastomacece, were obtained, one on the hills 
there and the other on Erromanga, though past flowering. Of the 
LoranthacecE, or Mistletoe family, a species of Loranthus, was ob- 
tained on Aneityum and Erromanga, and a small species of Viscum 
on the mountains to the south of Dillon's Bay. The Ritbiacece are 
very numerous on the islands, and include some shrubs with fine 
foliage, while the large orders, Compositse and Umbelliferas, are 
poorly illustrated. Belonging to the Rubiaceae was found a peculiar 
plant of the kind named Myrmecophilus, in reference to the function 
these exercise in harbouring ants. It grows as an epiphyte on the trees 
at the summits of the hill at Undine Bay, Efate, and has a remarkable 
swollen or " gouty " stem, from which roots pass into the bark and ramify 
there, while from the upper side the branches spring bearing the leaves 
and inconspicuous flowers. The tuberous stem is irregularly rounded or 
lobed, and is not unlike an enlarged potato in appearance, smooth and 
brownish on the surface, and growing to larger than a man's head in size. 
A number of apertures, however, are seen on its surface, the openings of 
tunnels that traverse the interior of the growth. In these passages were 
found ants of two sizes, but very small, and it is the presence of these 
insects in such plants that has led to their being spoken of as Myrmeco- 
philus. In some plants of this description the ants are large and fierce 
and, in return for the lodging their host-plant gives them, they do it a good 
turn hy keeping off insects or other animals that might otherwise be 
injurious to it. In this case the puny ants could hardly be of much 
service as defenders of their host ; but, at the same time, it may be said 


that insects, if we except spiders, appear to be few on the islands, at least 
in winter, the season in which our visit was made. 

Plumbago zeylanica is frequently seen, and the bark of its roots supply 
the place of mustard as an external application, while in other countries 
the plant is used medicinally in other ways. Of the Asclepiadea, a 
species of Hoya, or wax-plant, was found on the rocks at the east coast of 
Aneityum, and it was from specimens obtained on the east coast of Tanna 
that Robert Brown first described and named the species Hoya australis. 
Examples of the genera Solanum, Cyrtandra, Ruellia, Eranthemum, 
Coleus, Tournefortia, Vitex, Premna, Stephania, and others were also 
obtained on the different islands visited during our trip. The Euphorhiacece 
of the New Hebrides include a considerable variety of forms, from the 
Euphorbia pilulifera, a common weed at some parts, and used medicinally 
on the islands as well as in Australia, to the large and ornamental plants 
of the genera Macaranga, Acalypha, Breynia, Codiacum and others. The 
last-named is usually spoken of as Croton, and is remarkable for the great 
variety and singular forms of its leaves, as well as for the rich colours 
displayed in them, as may be seen in a collection of growing plants at the 
mission house on Erakor at Efate. The order Urticacece includes the 
Fig family as a sub-order, represented by the majestic Banyan and other 
species of Ficus, of which one at least — as seen at the Dillon's Bay 
mission house, to which it had been imported from Tanna — supplies 
abundance of excellent fruit of a rich purple colour. The order includes also 
species of Elatostema, Trema, Pipturus, besides some more lowly, 
nettle-like plants. Belonging to the Piperacece is the well-known Kava 
plant, Piper methysticum, a native of the islands, but not readily discovered 
by the botanical collector on account of kava-drinking being tabooed as a 
hurtful form of indulgence. The liquor is obtained by the fermentation 
of the juices of the root of the plant, and its use as a drink produces a 
pleasing though not inebriating effect on the brain and nerves, but in 
excessive quantities a temporary paralysis of the lower extremities. 
Though I did not hear of any lasting injurious effects on the natives from 
the habitual or excessive use of kava, it would not be right to assume that 
indulgence to excess in a drink having immediate effects of so marked a 
character, raay not be follo'.ved by more remote permanent results, 
although these may be minimised by the active out-of-door life of the 
unconverted savage. Another species of plant, called false kava, Piper 
subpeltatum, is common in shady woods, and is very like the true kava in 
general appearance, though lacking the peculiar property of the latter. 

The Santalacece or sandalwood family are represented by more than 
one species of Santalum, " false " as well as " true " sandalwood ; but 
although the trees were formerly plentiful, the trade in that valuable 
wood was so ruthlessly carried on, especially on Erromanga, before the 
establishment of the missions, that it is seldom that a growing tree is 


met with now, Dammara obtusa, a species of Kauri, in the order 
Conifera is so plentiful on Aneityum that a sawmill to work it was 
a considerable number of years ago established at Anelcauhat, though 
latterly the trade in the timber does not appear to have prospered. The 
specimen found by you on Erromanga quite recently proves its existence 
on that island also, where it is known to the natives as Nendu. The 
tree found was, according to your notes, " probably forty feet high and 
not more than eight feet in circumference, as it was close to the sea-shore 
and in a very dry spot abounding with blue whinstones thrown up by the 
sea"; but as you say that this particular tree was planted by a woman 
known to the present natives, I am in doubt as to whether it is the only tree 
on the island. Kauri is said also to grow on Santo, but it is not unlikely 
that the species found there, being so much further north, is different 
from that of the southern islands of the group. Young trees of Podo- 
carpus cupressina, another conifer, were seen on Aneityum, and in the 
Melbourne Herbarium is a specimen of an Araucaria that had been sent 
to the late Baron von Mueller by Captain Fraser, who had obtained it on 
one of the New Hebrides Islands. Mention may also be made of the 
Cycas or so-called Sago-palm, of the arrowroot plant, Tacca pinnatifida, 
and also of a very singular plant, Sciaphila of the order Triaridacece, 
found on the summit of the hills at Undine Bay, Efat^. 

Among the orders of Monocotyledonous plants, the Orchidece, already 
spoken of, are probably the most interesting and attractive to the lovers 
of flowers. From their number and variety they form an important 
constitutentof the flora of the New Hebrides, and while all are interesting 
there are among them not a few that would please the most fastidious 
taste. As a foliage plant, a species of Anocetochilus, with velvety leaves 
of a rich deep green veined with silver, common on the hills of Aneityum, 
could not be surpassed. The Liliacea do not appear to be plentiful, but 
the species of Cordyline or Dracaena are interesting as foliage or scenic 
plants, while a species of Dianella reminds us of similar ones in Southern 
Australia. The Pandanacece are represented by the Pandanus or screw- 
pines, large plants of striking appearance, with aerial roots and massive 
globular fruits, and the climbing Freycinetia, which at the time of our 
visit was frequently seen, but only in flower on the summit of Traitors' 
Head. The PaltncE surpass all these, however, in stateliness and elegance, 
the cocoanut palm being cultivated everywhere for the copra or dried 
kernel of its nuts, and with other species enhancing the beauty of the 
landscape in all situations. 

Cryptogamic plants are abundant on the islands, the humid climate 
everywhere prevailing being favourable to their growth and propagation. 
The Ferns are very numerous, and particularly so on the southern side 
of Aneityum, on the hills and up the valley of the River Inweililikei, 
where the climate appears to be wetter than ordinary ; and a great variety 


of interesting forms may be procured, from the tiny filmy sorts to the tall 
and graceful tree ferns. Specimens may be found of the genera Schizasa, 
Lygodium, Todea, Trichomanes, Vittaria, Davallia, Pteris, Cheilanthes, 
Acrostichum, Angiopteris, Antrophyum, Adiantum, Asplenium, Polypo- 
dium and others, some represented by a number of species. The Lyco- 
fodiacecc found include two species of Lycopodium, Psilotum hanging 
from the trunks of trees, Tmesipteris tannensis, so named from having 
been first found on Tanna, and a Selagenilla as plentiful as bracken in 
the shady woods. Miisci and HepaticcB are plentiful ; and the same 
may be said of Fungi, especially of the Polyporus family. The presence 
of the order Eqnisetacece, or Horse-tails, on the islands is of special 
interest to Australians, from the remarkable fact of their entire absence 
from Australia. A species of Equisetum grows luxuriantly in the beds 
of the creeks near the coast on Aneityum ; and it is strange that while 
so many of the indigenous plants on these islands are common to them 
and the eastern coast of Australia, no representative of this particular 
family should ever yet have been found on our island continent. 


In Several Languages of the New Hebrides Group of Islands. 


Ak Etmama an nohatag, Etmu itap nidam. Etmu yetpam nelcau 
unyum. Uhmu imiaiji intas unyum an nobohtan, et idivaig an nohotag. 
Alaama aiek nitai caig incama an nadiat inig. Um jim aru tah nedo 
has unyima aiek, et idivaig ecra eti aru tah nedo has u atimi vai cama 
aijama. Um jim atau irama an nedo oop aiek, jam imiatamaig cama va 
niji itai has. Et idim unyum aiek nelcau, im nemda, im natimi alupas 
irai iji mesese. Emen. 


Tamanomea i ragi, katapu tiou eigoa. Ahmai tiou avaka tagata. 
Kapena tiou akaniani i takere nei feipe i ragi. Tufa akimea iranei anea 
kai ehtaurufie iei. Koina tanori i apenanesa omea feipe akimea kohkoina 
tanori ma fakau nopenanesa iakimea. Koina tiarafia kimea ki akauliginea 
norehresia kimea. Kaie kaumata kina kimea i asa. Niou tavaka tagata, 
ma tatamotua, ma tiatata, inapugi manapugi. Emen, 

Tanna. — {Kwamera and Port Resolution Districts.) 

Rememaha ya neai, na' gam ikinan, pa entata seim ruvehe, pa havahi 
nokvvam ya tuprana rosi ya neai, tik aveipehe navegenien sanemaha ipet. 


tik apa narupunien tafaga rereha sakemaha rosi kemaha yahapuk arapun 
u'ma tafaga reraha nermania harno ya kennha, tik apa niripenien kemaha 
te nefeifeiien, mavahiraka kemaha te nerahaien, seim entata, nesekaiien 
mene, namasanien ya narimnarime pam mene j'a nuk nukeme. Amen. 

Tanna. — (Lenakil District.) 

Remimar le neai, Netigam terausim,"Neremerean Taham terua, Nakei- 
keian Taham terol moma le neai ne le ten. Ofa towe nar tiakarkin towe. 
Mosita netetan temar an imarosita netetan te ierem ramomukin kamar. 
Tenesiran kamar to nofenofenan, mero osmiuh kamar to ieremitat. Merc 
Neremerean Taham an nesanenan an netig asul le noanu min. Amen. 


Tamanomi taragi, Teigo tapu. Tshou tavaka komy. Tshou afasao 
erefVa acre infanua wararoni fakarogona hepe i taragi. Tufwa acime 
iranei tshome akai o nopogi ma nopogi. Touwaki nori maganisa tshome, 
hepe acime touwaki nori o maganisa o tagata iacime. Natshicina arafia 
acime ia teretu o maganisa, kaia kapare acime ia ana isa iotshi ; ma tshou 
tavaka, ma tomatua, ma nokabisa, tau ma tau. Emen. 


Itemen e kam unpokop, eti tumpora nin sorum. Elum lo sorum. 
Eti numpi taru su sorum ra nemap sugku unpokop. Ovug kam ire nevag 
nisekomam. Mefiellntug kam sat su soremam, sugku ka kem lafielinto- 
konda mori umnumpi sat iramam. Metutoro kam ran tapmi ko eforwug 
kam marugi sat su, it 16 Im horog, im nilasilaswi sorum, uvum nevi su 
indowi. Amen, 


Temagami O uane ku toko elagi, Nagiema iga tab. Namerameian 
anago iga mai. Ruga bati te uane ku mesau na emeromina, bakauli uan 
ru toko bat ia elagi. Ba tua gami nafinaga nag i uia ki gami maisa ua 
naga. Go ba manigami rati lu nafolofolon sa anigami ban, i taosi uan 
kinami au mer magi tea folofolo sa ki gami rati lu nigara ban. Go ba ti 
belaki gami baki nasurusuruen mau, me ba fulua gami ki te uane i sa. 
Anago namerameran, go nakasuan, go nasemanien, i tu tu bo tu mautu. 


Mamaginami, waina ku doko nakoroatelagi doko. Nagisafna ega tapu 
Namaraklana anigo ega umai. Namasauana anigo ega vei tea mariana 
maramana, ega tapala waina e pei tea mariana nakoroatelagi. Pa tua 


gami masoso navinaga seara waina e pia ki gami. Go pa maginami 
midoakikorokoro naleo maga waina e one gami one egatapala waina 
kinami ma au po magi lea maga waina naleo aginami e one ara one, 
au po madeada midoakikorokoro e. Go pa ta piragi gami paki nalawo 
surueana mau, ma pa vua lua gami ki tea sa. Nalakena anigo namara- 
kiana, go nakasuaana, go nasamasamana, pa pa ega tu po du mau du. 

ToNGOA (South), 
And the neighbouring small islands of Tongariki, Makur, Mataso, etc, 

Popo aniceme arae ko doko na rikitilagi doko, na kihaxa qa taka tam'. 
Na marakeane xaine qa arah' ; na masauneane xaine ru woh' varamane 
qa hiniki ri noko qoh' na rikitilagi : ko ori iceme mesa na \inaga arae i 
hiniki na qog'. Ne ko miniceme betog' elu na le abane arae i doko iceme 
i doko qa hiniki arae keiceme xo miniare abane na le aniceme i doko 
inire i doko, xo miniare betog' elu. Ne te ko qa wat' iceme do na 
meridogieane, ne ko kaolu iceme taka taha. Amen. 

Epi. — (Nikaura District.) 

Arimamemi rage pa teke e peni, kiaumiki e ki wa. Kiaufna raurarena 
imi. Naonenoniena kiauma a tapa yemarava, e slpa rage pa a tapa 
mava epeni. O la ani memi pani nakinaniena kamemi. A o la lua 
piowata kiamemi e slpa rage pa memi me pure lua piowata rage pa eririna 
lala topena a utapa ani memi. O pe ure memi pene nakokaniena ana 
o ure lua memi me pa tani na piowa. Amen. 

Malekula. — (Aulna District.) 

Tita tahamintil, u tok re nemav mor. Nahsem ti bembui. Batih 
venua tahegko ti pene. U mucia nesah aho u ndamuceni re nevenua 
efetil, lahasi re nemav mor. U leve sak amintil abakal nahamintil mil 
gcan ia abakal. U rumbasi tuacani nesah umui tahamintil lahasi mil 
rumbasi tuacani nesah umui ta asamagk ho ara mucia nesah umui ahane 
amintil. U metohsi amintil mil se mucia nesah umui, u leve gculi 
amintil entene amuko umui. Batih venua tahegko, Egko u mucia 
meserakan ia. Egko u mesilimbar, bu vagi tui. Amen, 

Malekula. — (Pangkumu District.) 

Ta sa nemdi mo tok ra namarin. Nacis sam bi kon. Batin venu sam 
bi vine. Bo uase macoran sam ra fenu tin apan fere ra mamarin macat. 
Bu revi bi jici nemdi ramuge Natinca nemdi daba hani ramuge. Bu 
revi tocini nier mi jij sa nemdi, fere nemdi dama revi tocini nier mi jij 
sa haris ra uase nier mi jij hini nemdi. Bo jege nemdi dama se.uase 


re jitic mi jij, bu revi gcuri nemdi reni jitic mi jij. Ca batin venu hisam 
ca hau mo pas rukure, ca hau mo fanfanare vec aig tue. Amen. 

Malekula. — (Uripiv.) 

Tata se kem, ku lik rage melerin. Nisem on. Batun vanu som pi 
vini. Kupu loli kem ga nama lik gatan, namba loli nanu ga nik ku 
marog, pi repi kami kama loli rege melerin mari. Kup elai nanin tevi 
kem leligan, namb ani. Kup etelasi tueni nanu ga mi sij kem nama loli, 
pi repi kem nama telasi tueni nanu ga mi sij ga mara loli. Kup ejigi 
kem sete namba loli nanu ga mi sij. Kup ereve tueni kem sete namba 
loli nanu ga mi sij. Batun vanu som. Nanu ga mo su gok nanu som. 
Pu to tui gok vini. Amen. 

Malekula. — {South West Bay.) 

Timinoa anagcite, nanotok lameligk. Niciana nunk velawavv, Nemu- 
cut tivi vetla anagcite. Inden kohoga tagen tabiah, man iah inden 
kohoga tagen lameligk. Kubilip naaien tigkisah bita kite kisah. Tiah 
nohobo pelowas nesamp spelovei kite, sesam kuspelovei mucut tiah nohobo 
pelowas ahankite kupsu wrahvei nohobo nabiah pelowas. Kulibuagcite 
tel nohobo pelowas : kuvi betla nagatiga kili dagcalen kubiah gin retewaw 
tue sahasah. Amen. 


Timianem, co om ru orcomeri. Ham i bokon. O me lia viri tave. 
O hahara vantin tave ralia drolom ran tan mewini ge co ramru orcomeri. 
O higani mile meni cenem lonle biali ran wobug tave. O herocro cenem 
hanem sisi mehakabe mewini maherocro vantin sinan ha sisi mehakabe 
meni cenem. Sincha on halin cenem vani ot ne halcoro. O haiku 
cenem nani co tolou. Tiban, sisi tave ham ; om yah ; om mutin ; om ru 
mato mato. Amen. 


Tamamam a na tukailagi Aulu ; isam tabu ; ava nom tamata a mai ; 
ava kamam ka rogouosai nom sorai a tano, a socen mede a na tukailagi 
Aulu. O sile te camam cinau barede. O lai tacai cinasate tele kamam, 
a socen kamam ka lai tacai cinasate tele tamaloci tenabu. O coro kamam 
ka te loli cinasate, o metaci kamam ka ducu. Verama nom, cinasuica 
nom, cinauosai nom, tauntari, tauntari. Amen. 

Santo. — (Tangoa.) 

Tamamam na tu^a, kitsam i tabu ; nom tamata i nai ; i la thaii nanasalo 
nom na verama iseiso, sokena, la le thaii na tu^a. O sile kanam te kamam 


nao nokoriki. O supu komo kanam na nonam g-ina sati, sokena, kana 
supu komo na tamloci, la thatha g'lm kanam me sati, nora g\mo. O supu 
rebe kanam than isara la guruguru kanam tsea. O la nareki kanam isana 
me sesati. Ko suika tsea, Ko ruku tsea, nom tamata i toko tauni i tari. 

Santo. — (Nogugu.) 

Temamam ta totok me ne tolon, mwertae kisem merua. Mwertae ro 
nom sac simae. Mwertae ro toua me ne lepa ao sokoi ni taroia, sokon 
ro toua me ne tolon. Ko lapi emam sinaka sopsopwea. Mo ko veti 
melum suri rire te ao nakavera mei emam. Ko korkoro emam me ne 
warei kin nakavera, mo korkoro emam me ne nakavera. Suri niko Moli 
mo maronim ae, mo oom ae, va van roprop. Amen. 



Historical Geography 
of the Holy Land 

Seventh Edition. With Scripture Index and Six Colored 
Maps, specially prepared. 8vo, cloth, 730 pages, $4.50 

... No one work has ever before embodied all this variety of material 
to illustrate the whole subject. His geographical statements are pen-pictures. 
We are made to see the scene. No important problem is untouched. With- 
out question it will take its place at once as a standard work, indispensable to 
the thoroughgoing student of the Bible. — Sunday-School Times. 

. . . An exhaustive collection of material lay outside the plan of the author. 
His intention is rather to show how the history of the land is conditioned by 
its physical structure. It is thus the idea of Karl Ritter which rules the treat- 
ment and presentation. Very comprehensive sections are concerned, not with 
the history, but with the nature of the land. . . . The author pays special 
attention to the military operations. One could sometimes imagine that an 
officer is writing, who, above all, regards the land from the point of view of the 
military strategist. In this connection especially the history of Israel in its 
chief crises in Old Testament times receives striking illumination. Large pas- 
sages are frequently quoted from the Old Testament in order to explain them 
by the exhibition of their ffeographica! background. In addition the author 
has a special gift of vivid rqiresentation. He makes the history transact itself 
before the eye of the reader in dramatic form. One sees, everywhere, that the 
landscapes whicli he describes stand before his own eyes. Thus the book is 
an extremely valuable means of aid to the understanding of the history, espe- 
cially of the Old Testament. — Prof. SchUrer, of Kiel, in the Thsol. Litera- 

The book is too rich to summarize. . . . The language is particularly weU 
chosen. Few pages are without some telling phrase happily constructed to 
attract attention and hold the memory, and we often feel that the w/ealth o< 
imagery would be excessive for prose were it not that it is chosen with such 
appropriateness and scientific truth. ... To the reader much of the pleasure 
of perusing the volume comes from its luxurious typography, and the exquisite 
series of orographical maps prepared by Mr. Bartholomew from the work of 
the Survey. These maps alone are more suggestive and enlightening than 
many treatises, and they are destined, we trust, to enliven many a sermon, and 
turn the monotony of the records of Israelitish wars into a thrilling romince. — 


3 and 5 W. I8th Street, New York 


The Book of Isaiah 

In Two Volumes. Crown 8vo, cloth, $1.50 each. 
Volume I. Chapters I.— XXXIX. 
Volume II. Chapters XL. — LXVI. 

This is a noble volume of a noble series. Isaiah will ever be the cream of 
the Old Testament evangelistic prophecy, and as the ages go on will supply 
seed-thought of the Holy Ghost which grow into flowers and fruits, vines 
and trees, of divine truth for the refreshment and nourishment of the intellect, 
heart, character, and life. H(yiv can any pastor or instructor of the public, 
young or old, afford to be without such aids ? — Baltimore Methodist. 

Prof. George Adam Smith has such a mastery of the scholarship of his 
subject that it would be a sheer impertinence for most scholars, even though 
tolerable Hebraists, to criticise his translations ; and certainly it is not the 
intention of the present reviewer to attempt anything of the kind, to do which 
he is absolutely incompetent. All we desire is to let English readers know 
how very lucid, .impressive — and, indeed, how vivid — a study of Isai^ is 
within their reach ; the fault of the book, if it has a fault, being rather that k 
finds too many points of connection between Isaiah and our modern world, 
than that it finds too few. In other words, no one can say that the book is 
not full of life. — Spectator. 

It would be difficult to say how highly we appreciate the work, or how 
Mseful we believe it will be. — Church Bells. 

He writes with great rhetorical power, and brings out into vivid reality the 
historical position of his author. — Saturday Review. 

Mr. Smith gives us models of expositions; expositions for cultivated con- 
gregations, no doubt, but still expositions which may have been largely 
preached in church. They are full of matter, and show careful scholarship 
throughout. We can think of no commentary on Isaiah from which the 
preacher will obtain scholarly and trustworthy suggestions for his sermons so 
rapidly and so pleasantly as from this. — Record. 

The Book of the Twclvc Prophcts 


In Two Volumes. Crown 8vo, cloth, $1.50 each. 

Vol. I. — Amos, Hosea and Micah. Seventh Edition. 

Vol. II. — Zepkaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah, 

Haggai, Zechariah I. — VIII., " Malachi," Joel, 

'Zechariah" IX. — XIV., AND Jonah. Fourth Edition. 

In Dr. Smith's volumes we have much more than a popular exposition of 
the minor Prophets. We have that which will satisfy the scholar and the stu- 
dent quite as much as the person who reads for pleasure and for edification. 
... if the minor Prophets do not become popular reading it is not because 
anything more can be done to make them attractive. Dr. Smith's volumes 
present this part of Scripture in what is at once the most attractive and the 
most profitable form. — Dr. Marcus Dods, in the British Weekly. 

Few interpreters of the Old Testament to-day rank higher than George 
Adam Smith. He is at home in criticism, in geographical and archaological 
questions, and in philology. . . . Hardly any commentator of the present day 
is more successful than he in putting the student at once into the heart of an 
Old Testament problem. — S. S. Times. 

The above four volumes are contained in " The 
Expositor's mble." find are stibject to special sub- 
scription rates in connection tvith 'that series. 
Descriptive circular on apjAication. 


3 and 5 "W. J 8th Street, New York 


laih Thousand. i2mo Cloth, $1.50. 

IMAGO CHRISTI : The Example of Jesus Christ 


Author of^'The Life 0/ Jesus Christ," *^The Life 0/ Si. r'aul," 
" The Preacher and His Models^' etc. 

"Each of the sixteen chapters are brief; all are packed with matter; tht 
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seen.' — Pittsburg Christian Advocate. 

" The style is clear and forcible. The comprehensiveness and definiteness of 
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— I^'eiu York Observer. 

Chicago /I a'7/<T«c^ says : " This book is sure to have a wide circulation. It is 
a thoroughly readable book. This topical method of treating the subject has sn 
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Presbyterian Review, January, 1890: "Dr. Stalker has brought fresh treas- 
ures out of a field that has often been explored, but not in his method. The 
volume is interesting as well as instructive. The author thinks clearly and writes 
lucidly. The book is a worthy companion to the impassioned devotion of Thomas 
a Kempis." 

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■wisdom and tenderness, fitted to quicken and nourish the spiritual life in »he 


"It Is the finest piece of devotional literature the Church has received for 
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had 8 great vogue here and abroad. But this is a greater book than either, and 
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" It is not easy to speak of Dr. Stalker's book without exaggeration, and we 
are not surprised that some of our contemporaries have pronounced it superior to 
VCk. Life of Christ. A more suggestive book for the Christian teacher we have 
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"This work supplies a real desideratum in theological literature. Dividing 
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after another, and shows us how he conducted himself in each. The pages are 
beacori lights, guiding us in our life's journey ; and no one can peruse them with- 
out being profoundly impressed with the wealth of the gospels in counsels of per. 
fection as to human conduct." — Christian. 

Copies sent by mail, post-^aid, or "'ceipt of pric«. 

A. C. ARMSTRONG & SON, New York. 

4 Years of Toil and Adventure in Africa. 


A LIFE. By his Sister, with Portrait and Colored 
Map, nearly 500 pages. i2mo, cloth, $1.50. 


" It would have cured br^ writer and hero of all moping to have seen the man- 
ner of MACK AY'S LIFE. He had no time to fret and groan and weep, and God 
knows if ever a man had reason ta think of 'graves and worms and oblivion,' and to 
be doleful and lonely and sa(S, Mackay had, when, after murdering his BISHOP 
(HANNINGION) and burning his pupils and strangling his converts and clubbing 

to death his dark friends, Mwanga turned his eye of death on him TO MY 


" Mrs. Harrison (his sister) has suffered the story, for the most part, to tell itself 
in the letters and journals of the dead. But these are arranged with the deft grace of 
a woman's fingers, and the image before one as the book is closed witnesses to her 
success. The picture shines and lives. This is one of the best and most inspiring o( 
missionary biographies." — British Weekly, 

"It is a volumeof intense and romantic interest. A man who could tramp through 
African jungles when he was reduced to a skeleton by sickness ; who could transpoit 
a small steamer from the coast to the shores of Lake Victoria Nyanza and could put it 
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King Mwanga with such consummate tact, was no ordinary character." — Rgv. Dr. 
Theodore L. Ctiyler. 

" Mackav's career contaitied more that would stimulate voung men to self- 
sacrificing lives than that of any missionary of our day." — The Nation. 

" It is a wondrous storv, and Mackav's name is one of those which we are sure 
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" The book is one of great inte>-est, and it is especially refreshing to turn from th« 
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poses entirely unworldly. He has been called the ' St. Paul of Uganda.' This praise 
of him, if rather unhappy in the use of terms, was intended to signify none too mucll. 
Mackav's devotion, in all its essentials, was altogether apostolic in character."— JV 
Y. Times. 

'■ The slory of his life is so grand a one that we wish it could be read by -^very 
youag man connected with our Christian churches a' home." — Lite'-ary World. 

Copies sent by mail, post-paid, on receipt of price 


IVevr York. 

DAIfc UUf 

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